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Ore. Domestic Partner Law Faces Suit

An Arizona-based group that was created to fight measures to legalize gay marriage filed a suit in federal court on Dec. 3 to put an Oregon domestic partnership law on the state’s 2008 ballot.

In October, the secretary of state’s office ruled that a petition to put the domestic partnership law (which includes same-sex couples) fell 96 signatures short of the number needed to go on next year’s ballot.
The Alliance Defense Fund’s lawsuit contends that the petition’s supporters should have been able to demonstrate that disqualified signatures were actually valid. According to the suit, the petition’s supporters can prove that at least five of the disqualified signatures were legitimate, all that would be needed to put the measure on the ballot, because the secretary of state’s office used a sampling procedure to determine whether the initiative was valid.
“Yet though the defendants lobbied for and had a full 30 days (through Oct. 26, 2007) to complete the signature verification process, the secretary of state publicly announced on Oct. 8, 2008 (only 12 days into the process) that the verification of signatures was complete, and that there were not enough signatures to sustain the referendum,” the lawsuit reads. “…With 55,179 signatures required to carry the referendum, the secretary of state’s office initially determined that 55,063 valid signatures had been submitted, and that proponents had fallen 116 signature short of qualifying the referendum for the ballot.”
“Because of the nature of processing of the statistical sampling employed by law, the proponents of Referendum 303 were short by only six sample signatures and had 18 days to review and rehabilitate only six signatures to qualify the referendum for the ballot by the Oct. 26 deadline.”
The lawsuit also maintains that the signers of the excluded signatures were not contacted or provided an attempt to verify their signatures.
The total number of signatures needed was 55,179. Opponents submitted close to 62,000.
If the lawsuit fails, and opponents of the domestic partner law are unsuccessful in any other attempt to bring it to a vote, the law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2008.

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