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Same-sex marriage opponents say they’ve hit needed level of signatures

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on May 30, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
May 30, 2012 4:43 pm

The group trying to put Referendum 74 on the state ballot said today it has collected the 150,000 signatures recommended by the state elections office — with 151,338 and counting.

With the June 6 deadline still days away, that builds in a substantial cushion beyond the 120,577 valid signatures that Preserve Marriage Washington needs to earn a spot on the ballot.

If Washingtonians vote to “approve” Referendum 74, they would uphold the law passed by the Legislature this year recognizing same-sex marriage. If they vote to “reject” R-74, they would overturn the law.

(Another measure, Initiative 1192, is also circulating petitions and has until July 6 but needs twice the number of signatures to get on the ballot and would require voter approval to ban same-sex marriage.)

Preserve Marriage hasn’t yet reported its May campaign spending, so we don’t yet know if the group hired paid signature gatherers in its final push.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: Supporters brought in the first 150,000 signatures without any contributions from paid signature gatherers, says Joseph Backholm, president of Preserve Marriage Washington.

Backholm said the group did pay some professional gatherers, just in case, but those petitions aren’t included in the count.

He said the campaign mailed petitions to 1,500 churches and thousands of households to find potential supporters who would pass them out. ”A lot of people worked hard to make it happen,” Backholm said.

UPDATE 4:40 p.m.A new poll out today finds 54 percent of Washington voters support same-sex marriage (though it didn’t specifically ask them about Referendum 74.)

The campaign manager for pro-R-74 Washington United for Marriage, Zach Silk, cheered that finding in a statement today, saying:

Our opponents are out-of-step with Washington values, but thanks to their paid signature operation, they’ll turn in huge numbers and succeed in putting the law on November’s ballot.  And we know that what lies ahead is a campaign designed to frighten and confuse voters.

Backholm said it’s all in how polls are phrased, and added:

What we do know is 32 states have had the chance to vote on this issue, and in all 32 states they have concluded that marriage is between a man and a woman. … Most people agree that marriage shouldn’t be gender-less.

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