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Referendum 71 Headed to Wash. Ballot

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Referendum 71 is heading to the November ballot, leaving the fate of an expanded domestic-partnership law for same-sex couples to voters, after opponents dropped their legal challenge on Wednesday.

A Thurston County judge this week rejected the lawsuit arguing that state election officials improperly accepted thousands of invalid petition signatures that qualified Referendum 71. Washington Families Standing Together, the group opposing the referendum, decided not to appeal the decision, effectively closing the last route available to keep the measure off the November 3 ballot.

"Due to the compressed time period, the lack of access to necessary information and relevant documents, and the fact that election day is less than eight weeks away, WAFST will not be appealing yesterday's ruling, so that all of our energies can be focused on ensuring that families are not put at risk by the attempted repeal of our state's domestic-partnership law," said spokeswoman Anne Levinson, according to The Stranger.

Last week, a King County judge acknowledged concerns about the validity of signatures, but rejected the lawsuit because it was filed in the wrong jurisdiction. Challengers opted not to pursue a protracted battle over interpretation of the law at the expense of Approve Referendum 71, the campaign to save the new domestic-partnership law from repeal.

"At the end of the day, however, WAFST must concentrate its energies toward preserving the domestic-partnership law enacted by the legislature and signed into law by the governor, without the distraction of an ongoing legal debate over which of these two rulings is correct," Levinson said.

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