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50,000 signatures against gay marriageMay 2, 2012 @ 5:08 pm (Updated: 5:37 pm - 5/2/12 )
The group trying to overturn Washington's marriage equality law has half as many signatures as they hoped to have by May, but they're confident they'll have enough support to let voters decide on same-sex marriage.
In February, Governor Chris Gregoire signed legislation that allows gay couples to marry. As she signed the bill, Chris Gregoire said, "It's a day historians will mark as a milestone for equal rights when we did what was right, just and fair and did it together, Republicans and Democrats, gay and straight, young and old."
The law becomes effective June 6, unless 120,577 valid signatures can be gathered to put Referendum 74 on the November ballot.
Preserve Marriage Washington has 51,532 signatures in support of the referendum, with a little over a month to go. If they make the deadline, voters will decide whether to approve or reject the state's marriage equality law.
"There is a huge demand for petitions and that's very encouraging," says Chris Plante, with the Preserve Marriage campaign. "Folks in Washington understand that this bill crosses a line. It's not about equality. It's about redefining marriage."
Plante says about 1,400 churches have committed to gathering petition signatures. That number does not include Catholic churches in Western Washington, some of which are making petitions available to sign after services.
"Every Monday and Tuesday we get scores more petitions," Plante says.
There are about 100,000 petitions in circulation right now, and each can hold 20 names. He expects the pace of the campaign will ramp up and they will make the June 6 deadline.
On the other side, marriage equality supporters are proceeding as if there will be a ballot issue in November to contend with.
Zach Silk with Washington United for Marriage, says it's "surprising" they don't have more signatures by now.
"It makes me wonder how strong their grassroots operation is," says Silk. "I'd imagine that they will spend heavily on paid signature gathering in the final month to boost their numbers and blow by their stated 150,000 goal."
By LINDA THOMAS
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