9th Circuit lifts ban on release of R-71 petitions - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

9th Circuit lifts ban on release of R-71 petitions

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SEATTLE, Wash. - A federal appeals court says Washington's secretary of state can release of names and addresses of people who signed petitions calling for a public vote on the state's expanded benefits for domestic partners.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday issued an order reversing a decision from U.S. District Judge Ben Settle in Tacoma, who held that releasing the names could chill the First Amendment rights of petition signers.

Nevertheless, the names aren't being immediately released. A Thurston County judge on Wednesday forbid the release of initiatives and petitions until the 9th Circuit could rule, and Janelle Guthrie, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Rob McKenna, says that her office must now ask that judge to lift his temporary restraining order.

Referendum 71 asks voters whether to approve or reject the so-called "everything but marriage" law, which grants registered domestic partners the same legal rights as married heterosexuals.

Conservative Christian groups that sponsored R-71 want to keep their signed petitions out of public view because they fear harassment from gay-rights supporters.

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