OLYMPIA, Wash. – Referendum 74.
That’s the name of the measure that will appear on the November ballot to let voters decide whether to keep Washington’s new marriage equality law or overturn it. That’s assuming it gets on the ballot. Opponents of the law need to collect 120,577 signatures by June 6 or the law takes effect the next day.
R-74 has been sent to the state Attorney General’s Office for preparation of a ballot title, 30-word concise description, a 75-word-limit ballot summary and a question that clearly defines the intent of the voter.
The attorneys will have five days to produce these. After that, anyone not satisfied with the ballot title and summary has five days to seek review by the Thurston County Superior Court, which is required to "expeditiously" handle any challenges and render a decision within five days. The decision of the court is final.
It's likely to be early March before R-74 sponsors can print and circulate petitions. Their deadline for turning in valid signatures is June 6. The submission of signatures suspends the law from taking effect until after signature verification and, if qualified with enough valid signatures, until the election is conducted this fall and certified by Dec. 6.
This may not be the only same-sex marriage issue on the ballot. Voters may also find Initiative 1192 which, if approved, would define marriage in Washington as between only one man and one woman. Depending on which side of the issue you are, you'll have to vote yes on one and no on the other. Here's an explanation why.