Larry Stickney, president of the Washington Values Alliance, has a noon appointment to file a referendum that, if passed, would repeal Washington’s most recent domestic partnership bill, says Washington Secretary of State spokesman David Ammons.
Stickney, a former aide to Republican legislator John Koster and primary backer Everett's Monument to the Ten Commandments, ran a set of deceptive television ads about the bill before the senate passed it, claiming that domestic partnerships would "redefine marriage" and result in "teaching that gay marriage is normal and healthy in public schools." On its website, the group lists 10 reasons to run the referendum.
The bill at issue is the state's third piece of domestic partnership legislation. The legislature passed two previous domestic partnership laws, which established a registry for same-sex partners and provided a handful of marriage rights. Those two would remain unaffected. This third bill, which would face a public vote, would extend all of the state-granted rights of marriage.
It’s unclear which group will actually run the referendum. Faith and Freedom had been fundraising for the referendum, but the group, led by the carpetbagging and tax-evading Gary Randall, may not run the campaign after all. “The latest buzz we’re getting is that it will be run by the Washington Values Alliance,” says Brian Zylstra, a spokesman for the Secretary of State.
The Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) requires any group funding a referendum to file as a political action committee. The PDC is reviewing recent records to identify a political action committee that would run the campaign, but as of yet, WVA has not filed a PAC.
It will take the state Attorney General's Office one week to establish a ballot title and summary for the referendum, but then opponents could delay the referendum. “If anyone wants to challenge that ballot title, which is often a strategic thing for opponents, then they can go to the Thurston County court and ask for review of the ballot title," says Ammons. "Whatever the court finally decides is a fair and accurate ballot title, the group can print on the petitions. It can take several weeks for all of that to happen.”
To qualify the referendum for the general-election ballot, petitioners have until July 25 to submit 120, 577 signatures of registered Washington voters.