Protect Marriage Washington

Rita Hibbard's picture

Microsoft gives $100,000 to the campaign to save domestic partnership

rita_hibbardweb3Microsoft  has come out for the 'everything but marriage law' in Washington state, donating $100,000 to the campaign seeking to retain the state's expansion of the state's domestic partnership law. The law, up for a public vote Nov. 3, extends marriage-like state benefits to gay and some senior couples.

The Seattle Times reports that the donation brings to nearly $780,000 the total amount raised so far by Washington Families Standing Together. That far outweighs the $60,000 raised to date by the law's opponents, Protect Marriage Washington, the group that forced the measure onto the ballot by gathering 120,000 signatures. It's the largest donation the campaign has received so far.

As InvestigateWest reporter Carol Smith recently reported in a story broadcast on Seattle radio station KUOW, voting on Referendum 71 can be tricky. A "yes" vote would leave intact the expanded rights for domestic partners already approved by the Legislature. A "no" vote would repeal those rights.

Smith reported on senior couples who don't realize how the law could adversely affect them.

Anne Levinson chairs the Approve 71 campaign to uphold the state's domestic partner rights. She told Smith that many seniors don't realize hospitals could keep them from a loved-one's bedside.

Federal judge blocks release of Ref. 71 signatures

Washington State's Referendum 71, which allows voters to decide on whether the state should extend domestic rights to gay couples, may have made the November ballot nearly a week ago, but the petitions are still making headlines, reports Janet I. Tu of the Seattle Times.

U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle has decided to shield the names of those who signed the petitions that got R-71 onto the ballot, citing that they are protected under the First Amendment and blocking the state from releasing the petitions to the public.

While the Secretary of State's Office has said that it is obligated to release the papers under the Public Records Act, Protect Marriage Washington -- a group opposed to the extended benefits -- filed a lawsuit to protect the petitions, arguing that the signers "would be subject to threats and harassment."

While the block is just a preliminary injunction, the judge has openly sided with Protect Marriage Washington, writes Tu:

Settle said he wasn't convinced that release of the names is necessary as "an important check on the integrity of the referendum election process." Indeed, Settle said that Protect Marriage is likely to succeed in its claim that the public-records act is unconstitutional as applied to the disclosure of referendum petitions.

Some are concerned that the ruling could affect the application of Washington's public disclosure law on future initiatives. Transparency is important to us at InvestigateWest, so we'll keep you posted.

-- Natasha Walker