Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drunks

Friday, June 12, 2009

Signing Referendum 71 Will Cure Cancer, Bring About World Peace, Lower Taxes, and Give Every Girl a Pony

Posted by on Fri, Jun 12, 2009 at 6:07 PM


This morning, a thick envelope arrived in my mail box containing the Referendum 71 petitions that I requested last week. I already knew it would have a lot of fine print. But what struck me was the larger print. At the top of the petition—above the ballot title and official legal summary of what the measure does—there is a box titled "Highlights" with large bold type. Here they are:

• The legislature just passed a law that effectively makes same sex marriages legal. By signing R-71 we can reverse that decision and protect marriage as between one man and one woman."

• If same-sex marriage becomes law, public schools K-12 will be forced to teach that same-sex marriage and homosexuality are normal... even over the objections of parents. Sign R-71 to protect children.

Both statements are false, of course. The state Attorney General's office wrote the ballot title to accurately describe what the domestic-partnership bill, which R-71 attempts to repeal, actually does. The bill extends the rights of marriage, but, the ballot summary says, "Registered domestic partnerships are not marriages, and marriage is prohibited except between one man and one woman." The second claim is completely out of left field. "There is nothing in the bill that forces schools to teach homosexuality or that same-sex marriage is normal," says state Representative Jamie Pedersen, who sponsored the domestic-partnership bill in the state house. And state Senator Ed Murray, the bill's prime sponsor, adds: "There is nothing in the bill that requires anyone to teach anything."

Nonetheless, the lies are in larger, bolder type than the ballot summary—essentially upstaging the facts. How can they do that? Gary Randall, spokesman for the Referendum 71 campaign, did not return calls to answer that question.

"What you see here is the radical right doing what it does best, which is trying to create fear in the public by creating a parade of horribles which in fact does not exist," says Josh Friedes, spokesman for Equal Rights Washington.

But it's legal. Secretary of State's office spokesman David Ammons says, "The state supreme court has said you can lie in campaign utterances and campaign materials. We have no jurisdiction over extra words and sales pitches that sponsors choose to put on petitions." In other words, the Referendum 71 petitions could claim that the measure would ban abortion, impeach the governor, guarantee salvation... almost anything (short of threats or bribery) to persuade people to sign it.

"We are all for truth in advertising and voters getting clear and accurate information," says Ammons. "But we simply don’t have police power of what campaigns say about their ballot measure."


Comments (18) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Is there any way to find out where they'll be circulating to gather signatures? And perhaps stage a counter-measure of "decline to sign" circulation?
Posted by L on June 12, 2009 at 6:13 PM · Report this
Don't you realize Obama authored the 'highlights'?
Posted by He is a Friend of Slog, Isn't he? on June 12, 2009 at 6:36 PM · Report this
The second highlighted argument doesn't come out of left field--it comes out of the prop 8 campaign, in which it was equally untrue and highly effective. Prior to the November election, my wife's mormon grandmother lamented that "the gays and lesbians" were going to "ruin everything" and that part of that everything was forcing kids to learn about gay marriage.
Posted by wtf on June 12, 2009 at 6:49 PM · Report this
Ok, so it's been a few years, but what element of the public K-12 curriculum covers marriage? Health or Civics?
Posted by mmbb_c on June 12, 2009 at 7:27 PM · Report this
Baconcat 5
Okay then, if this gets to the ballot by some miracle, who wants to run ads in Eastern Washington that says "PROTECT FAMILIES, VOTE YES ON REFERENDUM 71!" with kids smiling and waving?
Posted by Baconcat on June 12, 2009 at 8:27 PM · Report this
Vince 6
Nobody bears false witness like a "Christian". They're experts!
Posted by Vince on June 13, 2009 at 6:12 AM · Report this
dreadpiratepuck 7
I think that gays and lesbians should start using the same rhetoric. the whole idea is that you ought to have the right to get married, to raise kids just like heterosexuals (something thats traditional) within a legal marriage (something thats traditional) and protect everyone involved from things like not being able to live in the same country, visit each other in the hospital, and various protections and infrastructure to make raising kids easier right? so, just like 5 said: PROTECT MARRIAGE, PROTECT FAMILIES, PROTECT KIDS AND PROTECT EQUALITY. VOTE YES ON (insert legalize gay marriage bill here). is anything about the above untrue???
Posted by dreadpiratepuck on June 13, 2009 at 7:29 AM · Report this
Jigae 8
How is this even legal? This is another reason this proposition process is completely ludicrous -- people get to vote on laws that don't even do what they're told they'll do?
Posted by Jigae on June 13, 2009 at 8:44 AM · Report this
Dominic, do you know if ERW or any other groups are doing ad campaigns against this? This seems the time for a media blitz, especially outside the Puget Sound region, to tell the truth about this initiative.
Posted by Shun Gon on June 13, 2009 at 8:51 AM · Report this
Marriage as we know it should be destroyed except in the religious sense.

People should have equal rights to form whatever civil union they want. If married people get extra health care every worker should be able to get extra health care and give to whomever they want. Heterosexuals should not have to get married to get benefits or visit in hospital or get free inheritance.

End state sanctioned marriage.
Posted by abc on June 13, 2009 at 10:30 AM · Report this
Oshtur Vishanti 11
This is incredible - why not just say signing the petition will stop the clubbing of baby seals if you can just outright lie like this?

I agree, if it makes the ballot a massive 'Protect the children! - vote YES on Referendum 71' campaign is an absolute must!
Posted by Oshtur Vishanti on June 13, 2009 at 12:12 PM · Report this
Oh I thought that "some people just sign every petition so people get to vote on everything..." and that "this is just the way it's done in Washington state..." your Sec of State's office told me that, "posting names is a bad idea because Washington's petition process has integrity that needs to be upheld" and even Josh Friedes said in a NetRoots call, that we need to be careful about attacking how Washington petitions are worded because Progressives in Washington "use the petition system too..."

And and are being called by some,the enemy? This petition is the issue, the wording being allowed like this is the issue and so are the people who would sign something worded like this.
Posted by on June 13, 2009 at 1:36 PM · Report this
"We are all for truth in advertising and voters getting clear and accurate information," says Ammons. "But we simply don’t have police power of what campaigns say about their ballot measure"

Shame on you Ammons and all in the Secretary of State's office. This is a rotten way for the voters to be involved in the initiative process. You could suggest to the legislature that your petition process be reformed. But if what Josh Friedes says is common thought in your state, that Progressives get to partake in this sort of voter deception, then it is perfectly clear to me what is going on here. Of all the states that I have observed the process, Washington is byfar one of the worst, and the compliance albeit passive on the part of the SOS's office is disgusting.
Posted by on June 13, 2009 at 1:45 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 14
It's worth arguing that a referendum petition is not "campaign material." The form of a referendum petition is prescribed by law (RCW 29A.72.130).
Posted by kk in seattle on June 15, 2009 at 1:21 PM · Report this
Unfortunately, this thing is overshadowing the real, reasonable and sane argument against Referendum 71 — that revoking the rights of registered domestic partners hurts real families in Washington.

Just because a family does not look like a traditional family, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need the protection of the law in matters of healthcare, should one partner have to administer the estate of a dying partner.

Death and taxes happen to everybody. There are over 5,000 registered Domestic Partners in Washington State now who will be adversely affected in their ability to run their families affairs should their rights be put up for a vote, and voted down. I know of one story of a woman, who’s life-partner is dying of leukemia. And yes, they are registered Domestic Partners in a small Washington town.

I don’t understand the Pro-Ref 71 people’s reasoning. The Domestic Partnership law state clearly that marriage is only between a man and a woman. The church needs to be secure enough to distringuish between their brand of Holy Matrimony, and the equal legal status of tax-paying, hard working families who do not look like traditional families, but need to function all the same.
Posted by duggers on June 21, 2009 at 12:05 PM · Report this
Way2Blue4You 16
LMAO # 11, "signing the petition will stop the clubbing of baby seals"
Posted by Way2Blue4You on July 20, 2009 at 11:08 PM · Report this
WilliamM 17
Be warned the backers of Prop 8 in California were very successful in turning the debate into a "Save the Children" campaign. Nearly all the Yes on 8 ads featured children or parents being negatively impacted by gay marriage. Most of the ads had tag lines like "Protect Children! Restore Traditional Marriage! or Gay Marriage WILL be taught in schools unless we PASS Prop 8. Don't remember any baby seals, but the Yes on 8 crowd seem like they'd be pro seal clubbing.
Posted by WilliamM on July 23, 2009 at 10:58 PM · Report this
Wow, even real advertising has more credibility.
Posted by stilettov on September 26, 2009 at 9:45 PM · Report this

Add a comment


Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy