Voter Referenda on Same-Sex “Marriage” on Nov. Ballot in Washington and Maine
By Peter J. Smith
PORTLAND, Maine, September 3, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Voters in the states of Washington and Maine will get the opportunity this November to decide the fate of same-sex "marriage" in their respective states, now that two measures have been certified to appear on the November ballot.
Maine election officials announced Wednesday that pro-family advocates had gathered more than enough signatures - nearly twice the number required - to effect a referendum on the same-sex "marriage" law passed by the Maine legislature. The referendum means Maine voters have the chance to exercise a "People's Veto" of the law, which if successful would then reduce the number of states legalizing same-sex "marriage" to five.
Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, who supports same-sex "marriage," yesterday signed the proclamation that puts the "Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom" on the ballot for November 3.
The Stand for Marriage Maine coalition collected just over 100,000 signatures, well over the required 55,087 validated signatures to bring the referendum to a vote. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap's office stopped counting signatures at 60,391 before certifying the measure.
This leaves a two month time frame for pro-family advocates to make their case to the majority of Maine voters. Pro-family advocates in the Stand for Marriage Maine/Yes on 1 coalition count the Knights of Columbus, National Organization for Marriage, and the Portland Catholic Archdiocese as among their active supporters.
Meanwhile on the West Coast, the Secretary of State for Washington has approved R-71, a voter referendum that would overturn a law (SB 5688) passed by the legislature in April that gives homosexual couples all the rights and benefits of marriage, but stops short of giving same-sex unions the title of "marriage."
Pro-family advocates sponsoring R-71 under the banner of Protect Marriage Washington, however, say the law attacks the "historical understanding and definition of marriage" as the lifelong union of a man and a woman, and invites litigation that would lead to state courts legalizing same-sex "marriage."
Protect Marriage Washington submitted nearly 138,000 signatures by the July 25 deadline in order to get R-71 on the November ballot. However state elections officials threw out thousands of signatures, recognizing 121,617 signatures as the final tally. According to the Washington Secretary of State, just 120,557 were required to secure approval for the Referendum.
However the situation in Washington is far more precarious than in Maine, as homosexual activists plan to file a lawsuit on Thursday arguing that Secretary of State Sam Reed certified thousands of invalid signatures, which would then disqualify R-71 from the November ballot.
Yet the Protect Marriage Washington coalition is also fighting attempts by two homosexual activist groups to make the identities public of all Referendum 71 signers. The groups WhoSigned.org and KnowThyNeighbor.org have vowed to create searchable databases of the signers' names, along with the amount they gave and their place of employment. It is unclear whether their home addresses will also be published.
Pro-family advocates charge that the activists are using public disclosure laws to create an environment ripe for voter intimidation, harassment, and violence no different from what happened to Proposition 8 supporters in California. (see coverage here and here)
The Los Angeles Times reported in November that the El Coyote restaurant came under siege by hundreds of protesters, because one such website exposed the private $100 "Yes on 8" contribution of the owner's daughter, Marjorie Christoffersen. The rioting became so out of control at one point that the L.A. Police Department was forced to quell the disturbance in riot gear.
Christoffersen met with protesters and even broke down in tears, but the picketers were not satisfied, and continued their protest both in front of the store and online, where they deluged the restaurant with bad reviews.
U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle has issued a temporary order blocking the release of petitioners' names and will hear arguments today from Protect Marriage Washington before making a decision.
See related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com: