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Wash: away equality

by Jeremy Hooper

Wash-4-1-2Discouraging news from the Pacific Northwest. Seattle Post-Intelligenger's Strange Bedfellows blog is reporting that Washington state's anti-gay petition drive seems to be on track to hit the fall ballot:

The secretary of state's office said Monday evening that it has completed its second day of checking signatures on Referendum 71 - the attempt to repeal Washington's "everything but marriage" same-sex domestic partner law.

So far the error rate is low, 12.31 percent.

So far, so good on anti-gay rights measure signature check [Seattle PI]

Supporters of the hurtful bias submitted 14% more signatures than are needed, so this 12.31% figure is not so reassuring.

Well actually, supporters of the hurtful bias submitted 100% more signatures than are need, so the fact that we're even discussing this prospect is not so reassuring for anyone who's sick of having to fight for basic human rights.

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Your thoughts

Dear G-A-Y,

The other day a question popped into my head about the current referendum efforts in Washington and Maine: do these efforts aim to amend their state constitutions, or merely do they invalidate the present gay rights laws that have been passed there? If they do not amend their state constitutions, couldn't it be possible for the same laws to be passed again in the next legislative session, or for a supreme court ruling to overturn these referenda? I would be very interested in the answers to these questions....


Posted by: Bryan | Aug 4, 2009 11:18:44 AM

It looks like WA is pretty lenient with regard to verification of signatures. If the random sampling of signatures for a referendum predicts that at least 100% of the required number of signatures are valid (no indication that I saw as to how they factor in error margins), then the referendum proceeds to the ballot. One would speculate that if they have a 3% margin of error, that they would need a random sampling to show at least 103% to become validated by random sampling.

If the prediction is less than 100%, then all of the remaining signatures are manually validated. The random sampling can't be used (in WA) to invalidate the petition. So, hopefully, it will go to a full verification, and fall short by 50 signatures.

So, if today's numbers are an indication of the validity of the entire sampling, then it is possible (again with error margins) that they will need to do a complete manual verification - which is the best that we can hope for right now.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Aug 4, 2009 12:56:13 PM

Bryan it is my understanding it would simply be a repeal of the "everything but marriage" rights here in Washington, since, sadly, we already have a DOMA law here preventing same-sex marriage. I still have no idea how the hell the DOMA passed here, I assume by the same kind of lying tactics they are using to get this referendum on the ballot. There have been reports that they have actually told people this referendum would HELP gay rights to get them to sign! The local bigots who stood outside the Wal-Mart gathering signatures had a sign saying the referendum would "stop same-sex marriage"- another lie, since we already have a same-sex marriage ban.

This is one of those days I want to crawl under a rock, since I know it is primarily people on my side of the state (east of the Cascades) who push this kind of (insert string of expletives of choice).

Posted by: therealistmom | Aug 4, 2009 1:08:55 PM

120,577 signatures are needed to force the referendum. They have 137,689. That means that we need 17113 signatures to be invalidated, right? That's only 12.43%. This is the figure we ought to be referring to.

So far, the 12.31% error rate is slightly lower than we'd like it to be… it's gonna be close.

Posted by: Rootbeer | Aug 4, 2009 1:58:54 PM

Okay, we know they have the signatures to get it on ballet but what are the chances that it would pass in Washington?

Posted by: Jordan | Aug 4, 2009 2:28:13 PM

Oh, if only they were trying to put on a ballet, Jordan. That's be a delightful use of time ;-)

In all seriousness: The chances of something like this passing/failing are never certain. We can't afford to take the religious right (and their ability to mobilize) for granted.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 4, 2009 2:38:21 PM


No we do not know that they have the signatures. So far only 8% have been counted and the result is virtually right on the border 12.3% v. 12.4%.

As rootbeer pointed out, the math by both the Seattle PI and GAY is incorrect.


There is no constitutional ban on marriage in Washington. Your DOMA is nothing more than statuatory and can be changed by the legislature once the state has adequate support for marriage equality (probably a rather short time).

Dick Mills,

I think you misunderstand. They are not doing sampling. They are validating every signature. They've only gotten through 11,502 so far but they will keep going.


Yes, if these bills are blocke in either Washington or Maine, the legislature can pass them again every year until the voters uphold them or the bigots get tired of collecting signatures.

Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Aug 4, 2009 4:39:23 PM

Timothy, I was just reading the Washington State "Initiatives and Referenda Manual" which details the process of validating signatures on page 12. Though, it does say that state law prescribes certain circumstances where the Sec State CAN use representative sampling. From that, I did assume that in most cases they would use representative sampling. But, I think that it is definitely in our best interest that they are verifying each, and every name on that list.

I would be happy with a mandate that every signature for every initiative has to be positively validated, and that all sampling were done away with. I just don't trust those lying liars who collect signatures in order to vote on limiting my rights. In this case, I would suspect that many of the signatures will turn out to be duplicates, but that may just be the snide and cynically-distrustful-of-everything-the-lying-liars-do side of me talking.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Aug 4, 2009 10:45:59 PM

Today's numbers are in:

Today / Total

Checked 5,815 / 17,317
Accepted 4,980 / 15,067

Fail rate 14.36% / 12.99%

We should see the fail rate continue to rise as more duplicates are identified.

Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Aug 4, 2009 11:03:29 PM

Thank you Timothy Kincaid for helping brighten my day a bit. I was living out-of-state when our DOMA was enacted, and knowing it is statutory as opposed to constitutional (I suspected, but my legalese is terribly lacking) makes things seem just a bit more positive. Now to hope that if this does make the ballot numbers it won't pass... we just passed a Death with Dignity act and while that itself is not related to LBGT rights it shows a strong stance for individual freedoms.

Posted by: therealistmom | Aug 5, 2009 2:16:11 AM

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