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.
"Thousands may have been frauded by out-of-state, buck-a-signature petition circulators....Arno Political Consultants, a California company that has been questioned on using fraudulent tactics across the nation, to collect signatures for the anti-gay marriage petition. Arno bussed and flew in workers from around the country and paid them $1.50 for each signature they collected."*
Washington Families Standing Together says the secretary of state has not complied with the law in processing R-71. Signature gatherers are supposed to sign declarations saying that signatures they've collected are valid to the best of their knowledge and that they personally circulated the petition, the lawsuit says. Attorney David Burman said there were petitions with 2,058 signatures in which there was no name and no signature from the person collecting them.
The plaintiffs in the case also say the secretary of state was ignoring requirements that say only registered voters can sign petitions. The lawsuit says that on Aug. 17 Secretary of State Sam Reed told his staff to ignore the date in voter files as the voter registration date and accept signatures from people who were not cleared to vote when they signed.
"A King County Superior Court judge [Judge Julie Spector ] said Wednesday she had serious concerns that thousands of invalid signatures may have been accepted for Referendum 71...In her ruling, Spector said there were highlights on top of the petitions that contain 'apparent falsehoods,' such as the statement that if same-sex marriage becomes law public schools would be forced to teach that homosexuality is 'normal...even over the objections of parents.'
Spector said the required signature-gatherers declaration swears that people who signed the petition did so 'knowingly.'
'It is unclear whether a signature-gatherer can swear than an individual signer has signed the petition "knowingly" when the signature-gatherer has allegedly misrepresented the contents of the petition,' Spector wrote."
"Potential good news for backers of the 'everything but marriage law' that voters will be asked to uphold or reject in November through Referendum 71.
The Washington Poll released a report [PDF] today showing public support for same-sex domestic partnerships has increased substantially over the past three years.
In 2006, about 59 percent of registered voters in Washington supported either same-sex marriage or domestic partnerships with the full rights of marriage, compared with 41 percent who favor fewer rights for such couples.
But by 2008, 66 percent of registered voters said they supported same-sex marriage (36.7 percent) or full domestic partnerships (29.3 percent). Just 32.6 percent were in support of lesser rights."
"A federal judge has continued to keep private the names and addresses of those who signed Referendum 71, saying they likely are protected under the First Amendment and that the state failed to prove a compelling public interest in their release. U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle in Tacoma granted a preliminary injunction today, blocking the state from making the petitions public...The Secretary of State's Office — the defendant in the case — has said it is obligated under the state Public Records Act to release the petitions to those who request them.
"But Protect Marriage argued that the law 'chills free speech ... particularly when it is reasonably probable that those exercising their First Amendment rights would be subjected to threats and harassment.' Stephen Pidgeon, attorney with Protect Marriage, said: 'We think this is a good decision. It protects Washington voters' right to speak freely even in impassioned debate.' But Brian Zylstra, spokesman for Secretary of State Sam Reed, said the judge's decision 'is a step away from open government...When people sign a referendum or initiative petition, they are trying to change state law,' he said. "We believe that changing state law should be open to public view.'"
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