You may remember how sponsors of Referendum 71 whined two weeks ago that Governor Christine Gregoire was delaying their campaign by not signing the domestic-partnership bill into law. "Each day they have delayed signing the legislation is one less day we have for signature gathering. I'm certain they are aware of that," wrote campaign spokesman Gary Randall.
But who are they going to blame for the delay now?
This afternoon Larry Stickney, the campaign's other ringleader, filed a challenge to the ballot title of Referendum 71 in Thurston County Superior Court. May 29 would be the soonest date for a court hearing, says Secretary of State spokesman David Ammons, but June 5 or June 12 would be more likely. In other words, by filing this complaint, Stickney is losing up to 18 days to gather signatures. That would leave him only six weeks before the July 25 deadline to print petitions and gather 120,000 signatures.
According to the court file, Stickney wants the ballot question (as proposed by state Attorney General Rob McKenna) changed from this:
This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations accorded state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partners to be equivalent to those of married spouses, except that a domestic partnership is not a marriage.
Should this bill be:
This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations accorded state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partners to be equal to the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of married couples, except that domestic partnerships shall not be called marriage.
Should this bill be:
So is a domestic partnership actually marriage but not called marriage, as Stickney argues? Or is it not marriage, as the original language suggests, because it's not actually a marriage? God only knows what Judge Thomas McPhee will say about the wording—whenever he gets around to the case, that is—but he may be unimpressed with one of the words in the complaint. Stickney's lawyer four times misspells the state Attorney General's last name as "McKinna."