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Referendum 71 Challenge Rejected Again


The attempt to block Referendum 71 from appearing on the November ballot in Washington State was rejected by a judge for the second consecutive week, making a public vote on expanded domestic partnerships for same-sex couples more likely.

A judge in Washington on Tuesday rejected a legal challenge seeking to block Referendum 71, the effort to repeal the expanded same-sex domestic-partnership law that passed the legislature in May. For the second week in a row, opponents of holding the referendum, which was certified for the November ballot last week, had challenged the validity of the petition signatures submitted to qualify the measure.

Thurston County superior court judge Thomas McPhee rejected the arguments of Washington Families Standing Together, a gay rights group that claimed Secretary of State Sam Reed improperly accepted thousands of petition signatures that supported putting Referendum 71 on the ballot, The Seattle Times reported.

Last week, Judge Julie Spector of King County superior count acknowledged the concerns of referendum opponents, but she rejected the lawsuit because it was filed in the wrong jurisdiction.

Referendum opponents have five days to appeal the case to the Washington State supreme court.

A ruling is also expected this week in a separate federal lawsuit from the referendum's supporters, who want to keep the signed petitions secret, claiming that signers could face harassment if their names are released.

Should R-71 appear on the November 3 ballot, as appears likely after Tuesday's ruling, a yes vote would put the new domestic partnership law into place, and a no vote would reject it.

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Julie Bolcer