In a last-ditch attempt to stop a parade of gay-rights victories, Larry Stickney, president of the Washington Values Alliance (WVA), filed a referendum on May 4 that will attempt to repeal the state's recently passed domestic-partner-ship bill. The referendum requires 120,577 signatures from Washington voters to make the general-election ballot, where it would need majority support to pass.
Public opinion is lined up against Stickney's efforts. A poll released by the University of Washington last October shows that 66 percent of state voters support either full marriage equality or all the rights of marriage for same-sex couples.
The domestic-partnership bill, passed by the legislature in April, is Washington's third. It would extend every state-granted right of marriage, such as the ability to use sick leave to care for a partner and the right to share health-insurance plans, to registered same-sex partners.
WVA ran deceptive television ads about the bill while it was pending in the legislature, claiming it would "redefine marriage" and result in "teaching that gay marriage is normal and healthy in public schools."
It remains unclear which group will be responsible for gathering signatures and raising money for the referendum. Until recently, a group called Faith and Freedom, led by Oregon resident Gary Randall, had been fundraising for the referendum. However, at press time, the Washington Public Disclosure Commission, which oversees campaign and candidate committees, said no PAC was officially registered to fund the measure.
Josh Friedes, a spokesman for Equal Rights Washington, which supported the domestic-partnership bill, says the group plans to "do all the things that one has to do with respect to challenging ballot measures." Among the group's strategies: challenging the ballot title, dissuading voters from signing the petition, and preparing a campaign if the measure makes it on the ballot.
Stickney has not returned calls for comment.