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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 1, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 22
Ref. 74 petitions to Secretary of State's office on Monday
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Ref. 74 petitions to Secretary of State's office on Monday

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Opponents of marriage equality announced May 30 they have reached the number of signatures needed to qualify a proposed referendum - Referendum 74 - seeking to overturn a new law legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington State.

In addition, the group said they could turn in the signatures to the Secretary of State's office as early as Monday.

Joseph Backholm, with Preserve Marriage Washington, said that the campaign has at least 150,000 signatures on hand.

Backers of R-74 need to turn in 120,577 valid voter signatures by June 6 to qualify for the ballot. The Secretary of State's office recommends that campaigns submit at least 150,000 signatures, to provide a cushion for invalid or duplicate signatures.

'We feel that it's going to be adequate to get it on the ballot,' Backholm told The Seattle Times. 'We're quite confident of that.'

According to Backholm, the 150,000 signatures gathered thus far were collected by volunteers, not paid signature gatherers. However, he did not shy away from saying the campaign did hire professionals, and that the signatures they gathered have not yet been added to the total.

Washington United for Marriage officials say they are not surprised at the opposition's success in signature gathering. In fact, Zach Silk, Washington United for Marriage campaign manager, says his group always figured their opponents would reach their goal.

Washington United for Marriage has already raised $714,000, but will need a lot more to fight off the bigots when Referendum 74 qualifies for the ballot.

According to the Public Disclosure Commission, Preserve Marriage Washington has raised more than $43,000. However, that amount is a drop in the bucket, considering the deep pockets of national groups opposed to marriage equality, which have already promised money and resources to the Washington campaign. The most notable of these groups is the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage, which has helped overturn same-sex marriage laws in California and Maine.

If Referendum 74 makes the ballot, supporters of marriage equality will need to vote Yes to approve it, despite having opposed the petition campaign to qualify it.

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