Preserve Marriage Washington submits enough signatures to put gay marriage on hold

Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire, center, celebrates, with State Rep. Jaime Petersen, far left, State Senator, far right, after signing marriage equality legislation into law February 13, 2012 at the state capitol in Olympia, Washington. Washington voters will cast their ballots on the issue in November, after anti-gay-marriage organization Preserve Marriage Washington submitted enough signatures to the Secretary of State.
Credit: Stephen Brashear

Preserve Marriage Washington, opponents to the legalization of gay marriage, submitted an estimated 232,000 signatures to Washington's Secretary of State Wednesday, putting a hold on same-sex marriages until the issue is decided at the ballots in November. 

The Seattle Times reported that the organization planned to bring in at least 9,000 more signatures by the end of Wednesday, far above the the minimum 120,577 the campaign needed to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

"The current definition of marriage works and has worked," said Joseph Backholm, the chair of Preserve Marriage Washington, told reporters Wednesday. 

Same-sex marriage, which was signed into law by Governor Christine Gregoire in February, was set to be allowed in Washington state starting Thursday, the Associated Press reported

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The Secretary of State's Election Commission is expected to begin verifying the signatures Sunday afternoon or Monday morning, which will take two or three days, Election Co-Directors Shane Hamlin and Katie Blinn told the Olympian.

Signature-checkers will will be verifying a 3 percent random sample due to the large volume of signatures, making sure that they belong to a registered Washington voter and that the signature matches the one on file for the voter, according to the Olympian. 

If approved, the measure — referred to as Referendum 74 — would allow same-sex partners to legally wed, the Seattle Times reported. Though rejection of Ref. 74 would repeal the law, Law professor at the University of Washington Peter Nicolas told the Times that "there's nothing preventing the Legislature from bringing up the issue again in the next session." 

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"Would you want somebody to tell you that the only recognized marriage should be between a man and a man or a woman and a woman? How would you feel about that?" Perry Gordon, who lives in Roy, Washington, told the AP. Gordon is gay, and sid he hopes to get married at some point in the future, according to the Associated Press.  

Washington will be one of four states to vote on a same-sex marriage measure on their ballots, the Seattle Times reported, along with Maryland, Maine, and Minnesota. 

Last month, North Carolina banned gay marriage in a vote, opting to define marriage in the state's constitution as being between "one man and one woman." 

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