A right-wing campaign for a ballot referendum to repeal California's newly amended domestic-partnership law, which beginning in 2005 would provide gay and lesbian couples with most of the state-level rights of marriage, has failed to submit the necessary signatures in time to qualify for the March ballot. The signatures would have had to be submitted on December 4 in order to clear the certification process in time for California voters to weigh in on the new law in March. The measure's proponents, state senator Pete Knight and assemblymember Ray Haynes, now have until December 21 to submit signatures that would allow the measure to appear on the November 2004 ballot. "The quick response of [gay men and lesbians] to this threat against our civil rights has certainly put a damper on the right wing's ability to muster support for their antigay agenda," said Geoffrey Kors, executive director of the gay rights group Equality California, which sponsored the law and took the lead in setting up the campaign committee to defend it.
The Web site of the antigay group, Campaign for California Families, confirms the failure of antigay forces to mobilize against domestic partners, noting that Knight and Haynes "have dropped their plans for a statewide ballot referendum to reverse AB 205." Instead, both Knight and the organization are relying on separate lawsuits seeking preliminary injunctions against the law's implementation. Knight's lawsuit contends that it violates Proposition 22, which California voters approved in 2000 and which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, by using "word games" that avoid addressing marriage. "We are not surprised that referendum proponents are having an increasingly difficult time finding support for their antigay agenda," Kors said. "However, we can't be certain that just because they say they aren't collecting signatures, they won't actually submit signatures for the November election."