BY MIKE BAKER, ASSOCIATED PRESS
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington's gay marriage law was blocked from taking effect Wednesday as opponents filed more than 200,000 signatures seeking a public vote on the issue in November.
Preserve Marriage Washington submitted the signatures just a day before the state was to begin allowing same-sex marriages. State officials will review the filings over the next week to determine whether the proposed Referendum 74 will qualify for a public vote, though the numbers suggest the measure will make the ballot easily.
"The current definition of marriage works and has worked," said Joseph Backholm, the chair of Preserve Marriage Washington, as he stood next to stacked boxes of petitions.
The law, passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier this year, would make Washington the seventh state to have legal same-sex marriages. National groups have already promised time and money to fight the law, including the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage, which was involved in ballot measures that overturned same-sex marriage in California and Maine.