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Sponsor of I-1192 says ‘one-man, one-woman’ marriage proposal short of signatures to get on ballot

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on July 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
July 2, 2012 1:03 pm

The citizen initiative that would spell out that marriage is only between a man and a woman won’t qualify for the November ballot. Its sponsor, Stephen Pidgeon of Everett, says Initiative 1192 is more than 140,000 signatures short ahead of Friday’s deadline for turning in petitions to the Office of the Secretary of State in Olympia, and he concedes it won’t happen.

“I hate to say it … but we’re just not going to cross the threshold. We’re not going to make it. This measure is not going to be on the ballot,” Pidgeon said of I-1192.

That means only two initiatives remain alive likely filers ahead of the deadline – Tim Eyman with his latest two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases and the charter-schools proposal backed by at least $1 million from Bill Gates Jr.

Reached during the noon hour, Pidgeon said his team of volunteers had 98,539 signatures – well short of the 241,153 valid voter signatures needed by 5 p.m. July 6 and miles from the 320,000 that state elections officials recommend.

That leaves Referendum 74 as the lone measure on the Nov. 6 ballot that deals with same-sex marriage. R-74 asks voters if they want, in effect, to ratify or reject Senate Bill 6239, which passed the Legislature this year and would make Washington the sixth state plus the District of Columbia to recognize gay marriages. Religious activists collected enough signatures to force the question onto the ballot.

Pidgeon said his campaign used volunteers and no paid signature gathers, which R-74 had done.

He blamed rivals in the campaign to stop gay marriage – specifically supporters of the campaign to qualify R-74 for the ballot – for some of his group’s lack of success. He said those working for the sponsor, Joseph Backholm of the conservative Family Policy Institute of Washington, were attacking I-1192.

“I’m just going to say that the well was severely poisoned….We were killed by friendly fire,’’ Pidgeon said. “There were activists working with R-74 (sponsors) telling people to burn our petitions, to throw them in the trash, that they would be worthless – that it would be overturned by the 9th Circuit (court).’’

Asked about what the motive would be for such a thing, Pidgeon said: “It’s about fundraising, my friend.’’

State elections officials say they have not heard from any initiative sponsor reserving a time to turn in signatures. “As a practical matter we are preparing for the likelihood of two petitions to be filed – Tim Eyman’s and the charter schools,’’ said Katie Blinn, state co-director of elections.

Even if I-1192 had enough signatures it likely faced a challenge from pro-gay marriage supporters. Anne Levinson, who led the R-71 campaign that ratified domestic partnerships in 2009, is consulting the R-74 campaign and said I-1192 petitions being made available online to supporters had the wrong language on them.

State elections workers cautioned Pidgeon about this in a letter dated April 10, but Pidgeon said the language on the petitions was substantially correct. He would have made a “substantial compliance” argument, Pidgeon said.

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