Gay Marriage in Washington State Blocked by Proposed Referendum
Gay marriage opponents in Washington state blocked a law legalizing same-sex matrimony from taking effect as scheduled Thursday by submitting a petition for a ballot measure to repeal the statute.
The group behind the repeal initiative, Referendum 74, said on Wednesday they had collected more than 241,000 signatures, about twice as many as needed, to qualify the measure for the ballot in November.
Across the state, county officials who had been preparing to issue batches of new licenses to same-sex couples starting on Thursday put their plans on hold.
Advocates of repeal had until Wednesday to gather at least 120,577 signatures to win approval for a referendum giving Washington’s voters a chance to overturn a measure passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by Governor Chris Gregoire, a Democrat.
Democrats, who also control both legislative bodies in Olympia, accounted for the lion’s share of support for gay marriage in Washington state, as they have elsewhere in the country. Opponents were led by religious conservatives, the bulk of them Republicans.