After all the breathless coverage of valid and invalid signatures (and knowing at least one state has reason to celebrate today), Referendum 71 will be voted on in Washington. Its passage means the state’s “everything but marriage” law will be decided not by common sense, but by citizens.

With a final tally of 121,486 signatures to put 71 on the ballot, Gary Randall and Larry Stickney’s Protect Marriage Washington scored a thousand more than necessary.

Of course, there’s still that lawsuit from Washington Families Standing Together hoping to stay the ballot measure.


The new law was supposed to take effect on July 26. But the referendum campaign put it on hold, and the law can now take effect only if approved by state voters Nov. 3.

Rights granted under the latest phase of domestic partnerships range from adoption and child support to public employment benefits – although any benefits that cost the state money, such as pensions, are delayed until 2014 because of the state’s recession-fueled budget problems.

The underlying domestic partnership law, which the Legislature passed in 2007, provided hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations, and inheritance rights when there is no will.

Last year, lawmakers expanded that law to give domestic partners standing under laws covering probate and trusts, community property and guardianship. Opposite-gender seniors also can register as domestic partners.

If rejected at the polls, R-71 wouldn’t overturn those first two phases of domestic partnerships. But a failure in November would roll back the additional rights approved earlier this year under the “everything but marriage” law.

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