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Effort to repeal
pro-gay law fails in Washington State

Effort to repeal
pro-gay law fails in Washington State


Washington State's recently passed nondiscrimination law protecting gays and lesbians is safe, for now. Antigay activist Tim Eyman, who showed up at a press conference dressed as Darth Vader, failed to gather enough signatures to qualify a measure for the November ballot that would have repealed it.

An effort to repeal Washington State's recently passed nondiscrimination law protecting gays and lesbians in employment and housing has failed, allowing the law to take effect on Wednesday. Antigay activist Tim Eyman on Tuesday failed to turn in enough signatures to qualify Referendum 65 for the November ballot, the Seattle Times reports.

State law required the campaign to turn in 112,440 signatures of registered voters, but Eyman said his group had managed to collect only 105,103 signatures. Ballot measure supporters generally need to collect 25% to 30% more signatures than required to make sure they have sufficient valid ones.

On the steps of the secretary of state's office on Tuesday, Eyman expressed optimism about his efforts. "Getting that many signatures is an enormously positive accomplishment," he said, pouring cups of sparkling cider to celebrate. "Obviously we fell short, but we said we'd push to the end."

However, Gary Randall, president of the Faith and Freedom Network, a Christian group that helped collect signatures, wasn't ready to party, accusing Eyman of mishandling the campaign, according to the Times. Eyman showed up at a news conference on Monday dressed as Darth Vader to promote his ballot measures.

Randall said the fight isn't over. His group plans to attack the issue again without Eyman, possibly with an initiative to the legislature. That would require nearly 225,000 signatures to be turned in 10 days before the start of the next legislative session in January. "We feel pretty deeply about this," Randall told the Times.

If an initiative to the legislature gets enough signatures, lawmakers can take one of three actions: adopt it as written; place it on the next general election ballot; or pass an amended version and let voters choose between it and the original initiative.

"The people of Washington have spoken decisively in their support for the state's antidiscrimination law," said Barbara Green, executive director of the gay rights group Equal Rights Washington. "We thank the fair-minded residents of the Evergreen State for defending the civil rights of their gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender neighbors. We are not surprised that Tim Eyman failed to collect enough signatures to qualify the referendum for the ballot. Washington residents believe in fairness for all, and they have demonstrated that by their refusal to sign on to this mean-spirited effort." (The Advocate)

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