It hasn't even made the ballot yet--in fact, it still might not make the ballot--but R-71's been spending more time in court than Perry Mason. Last week saw a federal hearing over the release of the names of signers (the judge authorized a limited release for the purpose of checking signatures, but not a public release), and a state court hearing over which signatures should be counted as valid for the Referendum's petitions. (And in case you've been living under a rock, R-71 is the referendum that would subject the state's domestic partnership benefits law to a public vote.)
WAFST doesn't want anyone getting confused on how to vote.
Today, R-71 is back in court: In ruling that she didn't have jurisdiction over the case, King County Judge Julie Spector said that Washington Families Standing Together could file its complaint in Thurston County, after the Secretary of State certified the measure. Which is what the group did. Which leads to today's hearing, at which Judge Thomas McPhee will hear WAFST's arguments that the Secretary of State counted invalid signatures in certifying the measure.WAFST's Anne Levinson (also the owner of the Seattle Storm) said last Thursday that the group is trying not to drag out the litigation. "We're trying to move with all due speed so as not to interfere with the process of the Secretary of State preparing ballots. If the court does not rule our way, we want to have done this in as efficient a manner as possible."
One reason the group wants the matter settled quickly is that it will need time for the campaign, should a campaign happen. Referendums carry a strong possibility of wrong-way voting, because the people who oppose putting the referendum on the ballot support the referendum once it's there. The referendum is just an up/down vote on the law itself.
"In the case of the bag tax, people seemed to get that," said Levinson. But with R-71, the she added, the battle to get it on the ballot has been so long and so public that people may have become accustomed to thinking they're against the Referendum when they're for the law. (For example, recent caller on KUOW declared her support of gay rights and then asserted her intention to vote against R-71.) And thus we conclude with the requisite PSA: If R-71 does make the ballot, remember that you're voting on the law itself, and not the views of the people who put it on the ballot.