Wash. Signatures Back in Court

BY Julie Bolcer

August 12 2010 10:40 AM ET

Opponents of the expanded domestic-partnership law for same-sex couples in Washington returned to federal court Wednesday, and a judge ruled that petition signatures in favor of last year’s referendum on the law must stay sealed for now.

According to the Associated Press, “U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle ruled Wednesday to extend a restraining order that bars public release of the signatures while the case moves forward. He said that if the names were disclosed before a hearing on the case, it would essentially make the case moot.”

A hearing is expected sometime later this year, according to the AP.

Last November, Washington voters approved a new domestic-partnership law when they voted yes on Referendum 71, which the law’s foes had worked to place on the ballot. Whether or not to release petition signatures in favor of the ballot measure became the subject of a protracted legal battle, with opponents saying that disclosure put them in danger.

In June the Supreme Court ruled that the release of petition signatures in general does not violate signers’ rights, but the high court left open the door for the Washington plaintiffs to argue their case about threats in the lower courts.







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