Today was the last day anyone could file a challenge to the ballot language that the Washington State Attorney General proposed for Referendum 71. Referendum 71 seeks to repeal the recently-passed Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill of 2009 which gives same-sex couples all the state-level rights, responsibilities and privileges of marriage.
All eyes were expectantly on Equal Rights Washington, but who showed up at the courthouse today to protest the language of the referendum? None other than the referendum’s daddy, Larry Stickney.Remember that Stickney and his puppet master, the Oregonian Gary Randall, rely on people believing their oft-repeated lie that domestic partnerships are marriage. They perpetuate this lie because they know that 66% of Washington voters support domestic partnerships or better for same-sex couples, so a referendum on DPs is a non-starter. In contrast, opposition to marriage equality is at about 50%. Thus, their odds improve greatly if they can convince people that Referendum 71 is about marriage, not domestic partnership.
The Spokesman-Review (Spokane) describes the changes that Larry proposed.
Here’s the summary language originally proposed by the Attorney General’s office (the bold-facing is mine, to highlight the differences):
Same-sex couples, or any couple that includes one person age sixty-two or older, may register as a domestic partnership with the state. Registered domestic partnerships are not marriages, and marriage is prohibited except between one man and one woman. This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of registered domestic partners and their families to include all rights, responsibilities, and obligations granted by or imposed by state law on married couples and their families.
Here’s what Stickney proposes instead:
This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities and obligations of registered domestic partners to be equal to the rights, responsibilities and obligations granted by or imposed by state law on married couples, except that domestic partnerships will not be called marriages.
Similarly, here’s the original description wording proposed by the AG:
“Concise Description: 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.“
And here’s how Stickney would like it to read:
“Concise Statement: This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities and obligations of state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partnerships, to be equal to the rights, responsibilities and obligations of married couples, except that domestic partnerships will not be called marriages.”
I’m not surprised that Stickney didn’t like the AG’s ballot language, because it would make his bait & switch much more difficult. However, it is stunning that he waited until the last minute to file this challenge, running down his own clock. Petitions can’t be printed and circulated until a judge has ruled on the challenge. He could have filed this challenge a week ago and had 7 more days to collect signatures. Now, the earliest the court will hear this challenge is May 29, but the Secretary of State’s office is quoted as saying that June 5th or 12th are the more likely dates. Larry only has until July 25th to turn in 120,577 valid signatures.
And by filing the challenge at all, he all but guarantees plenty of extra scrutiny by the press and plain folk of his dishonest tactics. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Is this guy on our payroll? If not, why not?