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Monday, May 11, 2009

Governor's Inaction Stalls Homophobic Referendum

Posted by on Mon, May 11, 2009 at 5:50 PM

Time is slipping away from Washington's bigot brigade, which is trying to repeal this year's domestic-partnership bill. Washington Values Alliance president Larry Stickney filed a referendum last Monday that needs over 120,000 signatures to qualify for the general-election ballot; the deadline to submit those signatures is static—and inching closer. But Governor Christine Gregoire is delaying Stickney and his cohorts from gathering signatures by putting off signing the bill. Secretary of State spokesman David Ammons provided this update a few minutes ago:

The Attorney General has just notified us that the ballot title and summary for the domestic partnership Referendum 71 will not be issued until Governor Gregoire takes action on Senate Bill 5688. Opponents filed the initiative last week and the Secretary of State’s Office accepted the filing and forwarded it to the Attorney General for the next step of the process before sponsors can print petitions and go to the field. The sponsors will have until July 25 to collect 120,577 valid voter signatures to secure a place on the November 3 general election ballot.

Governor Gregoire has indicated she will take action on the measure next Monday. The bill, dubbed “everything but marriage,” confers all of the rights and responsibilities of heterosexual unions on couples who are on the state domestic partner registry at the Corporations Division of the Secretary of State. Deputy Solicitor General James Pharris, the agency’s legal counsel, wrote Secretary Reed on Monday that the ballot title and summary are being prepared, but won’t be issued “unless and until the governor approves the underlying bill exactly as it passed the Legislature.” If she indeed signs it intact, the legal paperwork will probably come out next Tuesday, he said. If she vetoes any part of it, a new referendum would be needed.

Gregoire, who received the bill weeks ago, could have signed it anytime she liked, of course. But putting it off is a savvy way to reduce the referendum's chances of even making it onto the ballot. After she signs the bill into law, anyone can challenge the referendum's ballot title in court, which would eat up more time. In the end, the gay-obsessed groups behind the referendum could be forced to gather all the signatures in around 60 days—which would require an act of god.


Comments (20) RSS

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Matt from Denver 24
@ 21, Gregoire isn't breaking any rules or laws. And it's only in the broadest sense of the word that she's being unethical. Bush's transgressions were much graver; this is no transgression at all.

That's how politics is played. Gregoire is being pragmatic. She deserves credit for that. Rossi would do the same if he had to.
Posted by Matt from Denver on May 12, 2009 at 12:13 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 23
Maybe if the Governor were holding off on signing this one bill then it would be questionable, but there are many, many bills that the Governor has not yet signed. It really does take a long time to review all the legislation that has passed. The Governor is under no requirement (moral, legal, ethical) to give referendum proponents as much time as possible to gather signatures. If they don't like the referendum process, then they should file an initiative. However, an initiative takes twice as many signatures. Are the opponents of this legislation being "unethical" by taking the easy way out (filing a referendum instead of an initiative)?
Posted by kk in seattle on May 12, 2009 at 11:53 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 22
21, Basic human rights should not be up for public approval. The majority cannot vote to make a minority lesser citizens. I.E, It would illegal for a Christian majority to make illegal, marriage between Jews.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore on May 12, 2009 at 10:23 AM · Report this
@17 it's nt a suprise, it's misuse of your office. I seem to recall lots of sloggers complaining about the unethical tactics of the Bush Admin, but when one of their own does the same thing (regardless of what side you are on) one should cry foul.

Remember then-Sen. Obama promised us the end of politics as usual? This clearly is politics as usual and it's highly undemocratic. Most everyone here is for gay marriage why don't we encourage putting it up to a democratic vote on the subject instead of stifling it?
Posted by Dingo Rossi on May 12, 2009 at 9:31 AM · Report this
muggims 20
I can't wait untill the petition people are out in the streets trying to gather signatures! Sitting ducks for me to come tell them how I really feel about their referendum 71. I like knowing what bigotry looks like so I can avoid it in the future.
Posted by muggims on May 12, 2009 at 8:07 AM · Report this
It's not an act of G-d that would allow the referendum to be qualified. It would be large donors who finance paid signature gathering. The most important thing we can be doing is asking our friends and family to pledge to decline to sign refererendum 71 petitions. Spread the link below!…

And if you or your family belong to a Church that you think might allow signature gathering, let the Priest or Minister know that this is not acceptable to you because it hurts families and goes against you understanding of your faiths traditions of social justice.
Posted by Josh Friedes on May 12, 2009 at 4:12 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 17
Welcome to the political process, children. This is how it works, and politicians from both sides have used tactics like this going back to the days of John Adams if not George Washington. Sorry if this comes as a surprise.
Posted by Matt from Denver on May 11, 2009 at 10:55 PM · Report this
ak47 16
What she's doing isn't illegal, but is it ethical? It seems like she's obstructing democracy. But then, I agree with her ends... Hooray?
Posted by ak47 on May 11, 2009 at 10:29 PM · Report this
I'd like to see it go to a vote because I think the gay side would win. Check out Nate Silver's model, which uses full marriage as the standard, not 'domestic partnerships'.…

I would have loved to see the fundies go even more backrupt over this one. Now we'll just have to listen to them whine about tyranny and persecution.
Posted by efs5r on May 11, 2009 at 10:14 PM · Report this
this guy I know in Spokane 14
What was the saying? Those who like sausages and law should never watch either being made? Something like that.

Seriously, I love it when smart politicians use the rules to fuck with the opposition. Even when they're evil geniuses like Rove or just evil bureaucrats like Trent Lott, it's kind of fun to watch the process happening, even though it's frustrating when your side can't come up with an effective counterplay. So #3 and #9, I feel your pain... and I laugh at it.

Posted by this guy I know in Spokane on May 11, 2009 at 9:57 PM · Report this
I love to hear wingers complain that a politician is somehow subverting the law by following it.
Posted by COMTE on May 11, 2009 at 9:17 PM · Report this
mackro 12
Let the first Republican who hasn't applauded or used a delay tactic to his/her advantage cast the first stone.

Are we seriously arguing about this?
Posted by mackro on May 11, 2009 at 9:07 PM · Report this
Simac 11
@3 @9. But it is the *responsibility* of any elected official to know what the rules of procedure are and to use them to their benefit; that's been a cornerstone of Anglo-Saxon-style politicking for 600 years. It's no different than how presidential campaigns are run to maximize electoral votes (sometimes winning without a majority of the popular vote) or Republicans *or* Democrats in control of a house of any legislature using the cloture rule to stall or prevent a measure from coming up for a vote, or creationists/intelligent-designists carefully picking certain cases over other cases to appeal and appeal to the Supreme Court in an attempt to get a ruling in their favor.

Politics is not kindergarten. Gregoire's tack represents exactly the savvy and expertise and knowledge of the system that any senior official should demonstrate, and I'm glad it's a Democrat exhibiting this talent for once instead of a Republican.
Posted by Simac on May 11, 2009 at 8:34 PM · Report this
I'm not a big fan of the tactic on its face, but I also don't care for holding the moral high ground while our opponents lie, cheat, and steal their way to advancing their causes. I'd rather take advantage of technicalities than lose.
And a referendum would be subverting the democratic process. 200,000 paid-for signatures would delay a measure that has broad public support.
Posted by sf gal on May 11, 2009 at 8:31 PM · Report this
Loveschild 9
3 Bingo, Dingo. I don't support this referendum but the Governor's conduct is appalling.
Posted by Loveschild on May 11, 2009 at 8:16 PM · Report this
When religious groups can pump millions of dollars into a state to support their views (Mormon on Prop 8), having every little advantage we can get helps.
Posted by doug on May 11, 2009 at 8:14 PM · Report this
punkmama828 7
i don't care how it's done, progress is progress. i live in MA and i'm always glad to see other states catching on and realizing that god hasn't caused any earthquakes to drop lovely ptown and the rest of us into the ocean. all our massholes are doing just fine, even the homophobes. so end the bs and join our merry bandwagon already!
Posted by punkmama828 on May 11, 2009 at 7:53 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 4
No Dingo she is NOT subverting the process. She is working with in the process. It's ugly for the losing side of course, but she's well within the law. Nothing corrupt about what she is doing, not a thing.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on May 11, 2009 at 6:48 PM · Report this
So let me get this straight...the Governor is subverting the democratic process of her opponents delaying the signing of the bill. Political corruption at it's finest.
Posted by Dingo Rossi on May 11, 2009 at 6:41 PM · Report this
Baconcat 2
Is there any right you guys are willing to wiggle out of until next legislative session?

I think she should veto a line that was set to come active at a later date and then direct the legislature to add it back next session. Quite a few were listed with an active date of 2010. Eh? Eh? You guys thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?

With all major papers and most news outlets against this referendum and most religious groups opposed to doing it now, this really should be nipped.
Posted by Baconcat on May 11, 2009 at 6:21 PM · Report this

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