Judge refuses to block Washington’s R-71 ballot initiative

Referendum 71UPDATED 17:30 PT — A judge on Tuesday refused to block a proposed ballot initiative on expanded domestic partnership benefits for gay couples in Washington state.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee rejected arguments today in an Olympia courtroom in the lawsuit filed by Washington Families Standing Together. The group challenged the validity of thousands of voter signatures counted by the Secretary of State that supported putting R-71 on the ballot.

Today’s ruling clears the way for a statewide vote on the measure November 3, giving voters the opportunity to overturn the legislation that would have extended marriage-like benefits to gay couples and older unmarried heterosexual couples.

The referendum’s sponsor, Protect Marriage Washington, is hoping citizens reject the “everything but marriage” law passed by the Legislature.

An appeal is considered likely, however, only days remain before officials need to begin printing materials for the general election.

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