247,311 in Wash. State Sign Petitions for Ballot to Block Same-Sex Marriage

By Christopher Goins | June 11, 2012 | 6:52 PM EDT

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

(CNSNews.com) – A same-sex marriage law that was supposed to take effect on June 7 is on hold, thanks to the efforts of a Washington-based pro-traditional marriage group.

The pro-traditional marriage group Preserve Marriage Washington has collected 247,311 signatures, as of press time, to qualify a ballot initiative on the November 2012 ballot.

The initiative will enable Washington voters to decide whether they support SB 6239, which Washington state lawmakers passed in February and Gov. Christine Gregoire immediately signed into law.

The same-sex marriage law provides for the “equal protection for all families in Washington by creating equality in civil marriage and changing the domestic partnership laws, while protecting religious freedom,” according to the bill's text.

Conservative activists, meanwhile, collected more than double the signatures needed to qualify Referendum 74 for the ballot. Activists needed to garner 120,000 signatures by June 6.

“The signature gathering effort produced more signatures than have ever been collected by any referendum committee in the history of the state,” Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, and a member of Preserve Marriage Washington’s executive office said in a statement.

“This shows the broad and deep support that traditional marriage enjoys, and sets the stage for a tremendous victory for marriage this November,” he continued.

Thomas Peters, cultural director at the National Organization for Marriage, told CNSNews.com that there's little chance that the repeal effort will lose steam. The six-month stretch between now and the election actually gives Preserve Marriage Washington more time to mount a campaign, he said.

“I don’t think there’s much question about being able to keep up energy,” Peters said. “It’s actually more time for us to organize.”

The next step for Preserve Marriage Washington is to get 100,000 volunteers signed up, says Peters.

Peters added that the experience from the signature gathering process was that Preserve Marriage Washington was able to identify “a much wider coalition in support of marriage” than the similar efforts in the past conducted on the East Coast.

Of the 32 states that have voted on the issue of marriage, all 32 have voted to preserve traditional marriage. The National Organization of Marriage says it is confident that Washington State will do likewise.

However, the pro-homosexual marriage group Washington United for Marriage plans to take its campaign to preserve the same-sex marriage law to “every corner of the state,” according to a statement.

If voters choose to uphold the gay marriage law, Washington would become the seventh state to re-define homosexual partnerships as “marriage.”

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