Have R-71 Backers Chosen a Death With Dignity?

There are a number of set strategies that come into play when running or opposing a ballot measure, and some of the most time tested involve the ballot title. So it is curious to consider the No side’s strategy in challenging the title to Referendum 71, which would put the recently passed domestic partnership legislation before voters.

No doubt the the original title assigned by the Attorney General’s office is more than acceptable to the Yes camp (those who would favor upholding the legislation), while the alternative proposed by the R-71’s sponsors (those who oppose the legislation) is more favorable to their electoral prospects.  Here is the original ballot title language:

“Same-sex couples, or any couple that includes one person age sixty-two or older, may register as a domestic partnership with the state. Registered domestic partnerships are not marriages, and marriage is prohibited except between one man and one woman. This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of registered domestic partners and their families to include all rights, responsibilities, and obligations granted by or imposed by state law on married couples and their families.”

And here is the alternative proposed by a referendum sponsor:

“The bill would expand the rights, responsibilities and obligations of registered domestic partners to be equal to the rights, responsibilities and obligations granted by or imposed by state law on married couples, except that domestic partnerships will not be called marriages.”

The original title is certainly more informative than the proposed alternative, accurately noting that “Registered domestic partnerships are not marriages, and marriage is prohibited except between one man and one woman.” Specifically restating our state’s DOMA-enforced definition of marriage can’t help but soften opposition to expanding rights for domestic partnerships, so I’m guessing that’s the language that the R-71 sponsors are most opposed to.  And for good reason.

But while a favorable ballot title (that is, favorable to your side) can amount to as much as a point or two advantage at the polls, it’s not worth a hill of beans if you don’t get your measure on the ballot in the first place, and that’s the kind of Sophie’s choice the two camps were faced with in making their calculation whether or not to challenge the ballot title.

R-71 sponsors have only until July 25 to collect 120,577 valid voter signatures. Add the recommended 20% cushion to account for duplicates, mismatched signatures and other discrepencies, and you’re looking at a target of about 144,000 signatures in less than eight weeks… and counting.

Had the No camp let last Friday’s challenge deadline slide, they could have printed petitions overnight and started collecting on May 23, giving them 63 days to gather their signatures at an average rate of about 2,286 signatures a day. But now, with a Thurston County Superior Court judge not scheduled to hear their challenge until next Tuesday, R-71 sponsors will have at most 52 days to gather signatures. At an average rate of over 2,769 a day, they’ve effectively added almost 500 extra signatures a day to their burden—a 21-percent increase—while losing two Sundays, a definite blow to a canvassing campaign that will likely rely on churches to produce a large chunk of its signatures.

Without a large infusion of cash to pay professional signature gatherers (we’re talking several hundred thousand dollars) this target just doesn’t seem doable, especially considering how noncontroversial the domestic partnership legislation has proven within the general population. Perhaps the R-71 sponsors are hoping for a miracle, but I don’t remember Jesus performing any magic tricks in the interest of promoting discrimination.

Meanwhile, the ballot title challenge itself was a crapshoot to begin with, with judges tending to retain the AG’s original language more often than not. Yes, the stuff about marriage being between one man and one woman sucks a lot of the outrage out of voters on the fence, but it will be hard for the No camp to successfully argue that voters should be presented with less information, unless they are fortunate enough to draw a judge who both sympathizes with their agenda, and is willing to use his court to act on it.  (You know, one of those damn activist judges the right is always complaining about.)

So it makes me wonder what the No camp’s strategy really is? Do they really believe they can gather the requisite signatures in a little more than seven weeks? Are they confident they have a chance of prevailing at the polls if they do qualify? Or have they wisely started to question whether waging a losing battle over R-71 might ultimately cause their anti-gay agenda more harm than good?

Yeah, I’m cynical, but this ballot title challenge sure does look like a poison pill. Which I guess, ironically, might make this religious right backed referendum our state’s second documented case of death with dignity.

UPDATE:
The ballot title challenge has been withdrawn after wasting a week of precious signature gathering time.  So I guess there’s no dignity after all.

Comments

  1. 2

    Daddy Love spews:

    You KNOW that our WA wingnuts would rather lose while clinging tightly to their crackpot discrimination than win backing a measure that might actually help someone.

  2. 4

    headless spews:

    After years of things like the ‘Laffler Curve’ being discussed as being serious analysis by TV punditry, it is refreshing to have these Radcon fools rebranded as what they are: Crackpots!

  3. 5

    spews:

    I’m glad to see that John Koster’s campaign manager, Larry Stickney, has put the signature gatherers at a definite disadvantage. However, you do offer this qualifier:

    Without a large infusion of cash to pay professional signature gatherers (we’re talking several hundred thousand dollars) this target just doesn’t seem doable,…

    That actually could happen if what I wrote about the KOC should bear forbidden fruit.

    Peace,

  4. 6

    spews:

    144,000 signatures needed?

    That would be one signature for every “sealed” member of the 12 tribes of Israel who will make it into the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Perhaps they will offer a forehead stamp and a free ticket through the pearly gates for anyone who signs a petition….

  5. 8

    manoftruth spews:

    goldstein, why dont you just hire the black panthers, the ones that last year were chareged with intimidating voters in in philedelphia, and of course now the charges were dropped

  6. 9

    Statistics and Damn Statistics spews:

    Once we finally ban the gays from all ‘forms’ of marriage because they violate a passage in the Old Testament, can we finally move on to Hindus? Hindu marriage (and all non-Christian) marriages MUST be banned because they ALSO anger god and violate the Old Testament rule of having “no other gods” before Jehovah. Having the state give the SAME rights and sanctity to marriages under Vishnu must make Jehovah angry too.

    Then seniors. Have to ban those. Those old folks getting married for “companionship”, but not producing any new children…that’s not COOL! Marriages can only be legal if you produce children, a bunch of seniors getting married just to have companionship and share benefits should be illegal. Probably should add any young couples who are sterile too. Sure they can adopt, but so can gays, and as the right has pointed out, that does NOT count as a “family”.

  7. 10

    headless spews:

    Earth is just an episode of ‘Survivor’ to the omnipotent one.

    Sure, He could fix everything with a mere furrowing of his noble brow, but then how would we learn about His lessons in free will and obeisance to market forces?

    Proper Christian marriage is crucial to these divine aims.

    Are there really people who have time to think about life in these terms?

  8. 13

    slingshot spews:

    “Perhaps the R-71 sponsors are hoping for a miracle, but I don’t remember Jesus performing any magic tricks in the interest of promoting discrimination”.

    Since Jesus is on the disabled list, keep a watchful eye for Joseph Smith, the walk-on rookie, to summon his miracle Mormon minions.

    Hey, it could happen.

  9. 14

    blathering michael spews:

    “Perhaps the R-71 sponsors are hoping for a miracle, but I don’t remember Jesus performing any magic tricks in the interest of promoting discrimination.”

    Jesus supported the original everything-but-marriage bill. Known as a social incrementalist, gay marriage activists expect to have Him in their camp by next session.

  10. 15

    headless spews:

    The Party of NO is the party of no-thing.

    “You’re invisible now. You got no secrets to conceal. How does it feel?” Bob Z the big D ain’t got time fo’ T…V.

  11. 16

    slingshot spews:

    “The ballot title challenge has been withdrawn after wasting a week of precious signature gathering time. So I guess there’s no dignity after all”.

    No miracle? Obviously, Jesus hates Washington. My guess is it’s because we’re not part of the real Amurka.