UPDATE: Looks like the hearing has been scheduled for Monday, August 31st at 2:30 in King Co. Superior Court, Judge Julie Spector presiding. Btw, the Perkins Coie is doing this pro bono.
Washington Families Standing Together has identified several, erm, irregularities in the signature gathering methods used by R-71 sponsors Protect Marriage Washington, and in the signature certification methods used by the Washington Secretary of State (SoS). They have therefore filed for a temporary restraining order “so that Referendum 71 is not placed on the ballot based on petitions and signatures that violate Washington law.” Here’s an explanatory statement from WAFST Chair, Anne Levinson. Below the fold, I’ll detail the points of contention described in the WAFST complaint.
STATEMENT FROM WASHINGTON FAMILIES STANDING TOGETHER CONCERNING LITIGATION FILED ON AUGUST 27th TO PROTECT FAMILIES IN WASHINGTON STATE
We respect the referendum process and the public’s right to vote, but we have been increasingly concerned that, along with other issues our observers have noted with signatures being accepted that in the view of observers should have been rejected, the Secretary of State has accepted thousands of signatures that were not in compliance with State laws related to fraud in the signature-gathering process.
Because of the limited number of signatures turned in, failure to enforce these laws could well lead to a measure being qualified for the ballot that should not be, and that measure has the potential to strip away important protections from thousands of families all across the state. There are domestic partners in every county of the state. They are same sex couples and heterosexual couples where one or both partners is 62 years or older. These couples should not have to worry about whether a partner can take sick leave to care for a loved one who is ill. A firefighter should not have to worry about whether her children will be taken care of if something should happen to her while fighting a fire. These are basic rights and protections that all families should have. Those trying to qualify Referendum 71 for the ballot do not think that families different than theirs should have these protections, so they are trying to overturn the law.
We expect a strong vote in support of the domestic partnership law if it is on the ballot, but we should not put people through the hardship of a statewide campaign and have them go through months of additional worry needlessly. Referendum 71 should only be on the ballot if it has qualified based on legally valid signatures. In order to ensure that it is not put on the ballot in error, we needed to file a legal challenge at this point.
We have waited because we wanted to give the process a chance to work, but we did not want to wait so long as to interfere with the Secretary of State’s ability to produce election materials in a timely manner. This motion will be heard on an expedited basis early next week. You can read the pleadings online: http://wei.secstate.wa.gov/oso…
Meanwhile we need to move full speed ahead with the campaign – the first ballots go out in about 6 weeks!
Chair, WAFST www.approve71.org
Here are the problems identified by WAFST in the signature gathering and validation process:
Referendum 71 voters will be asked to approve or reject the domestic partnership law.
Statement of Subject: The legislature passed Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5688 concerning rights and responsibilities of state-registered domestic partners [and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill].
Concise Description: This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations accorded state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partners to be equivalent to those of married spouses, except that a domestic partnership is not a marriage.
Should this bill be:
Ballot Measure Summary
Same-sex couples, or any couple that includes one person age sixty-two or older, may register as a domestic partnership with the state. Registered domestic partnerships are not marriages, and marriage is prohibited except between one man and one woman. This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of registered domestic partners and their families to include all rights, responsibilities, and obligations granted by or imposed by state law on married couples and their families.
Cross-posted at Washblog.