(Photo: Preserve Marriage Washington)
A coalition of groups seeking to overturn Washington State's same-sex marriage law received twice as many signatures as would be needed to have a referendum for November.
Preserve Marriage Washington collected about 242,000 signatures to get the referendum on marriage definition put on the November ballot; the minimum number of valid signatures needed was approximately 120,000.
Joseph Backholm, chairman of PMW, told The Christian Post that the cause for the success rate for this signature gathering was the grassroots effort launched.
"We had more than 1,500 churches and more than 5,000 individuals involved in the signature collection effort," said Backholm.
"We know those trying to redefine marriage are highly motivated, well organized, and well-funded. We expect to have to work very hard and will need the involvement of every common sense conservative in Washington State."
The signatures gathered were turned in on Wednesday to the Secretary of State's office in Olympia. While there is still a verification process, many recognize that the sheer number of names all but guarantees the matter will be decided by voters come November.
"We believe this is a good indicator of a tremendous amount of support in Washington for marriage," said Backholm.
"We also expect that Washington will join the other 32 states who have voted on this issue and conclude that marriage is a union between a man and a woman."
In February, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. With her signature, Washington became the seventh state in the country to approve same-sex marriage.
"This is truly a historic day in Washington State, and one where I couldn't be more proud," Gregoire said in a statement. "With today's vote, we tell the nation that Washington state will no longer deny our citizens the opportunity to marry the person they love."
Originally, the legislation was to take effect on Thursday, June 7, provided that opponents could not put the newly passed legislation to referendum in November.
Before the bill was passed, Washington State recognized same-sex civil unions and gave said unions nearly all the state level benefits of heterosexual marriage without the name "marriage" being attached to it.
Opposing the PMW coalition will be Washington United for Marriage, an anti-referendum coalition that includes the Human Rights Campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union, and SEIU.
Washington is only one of several states that will be voting on the issue of marriage definition come November. In a similar situation, Maryland voters will decide by public referendum whether or not that state's recently passed same-sex marriage legalization bill shall remain.
Maine will hold a referendum in support of legalizing same-sex marriage in the state while Minnesota voters will consider an amendment to their state constitution defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.