Opponents of two gay rights laws passed by the 2007 Oregon Legislature turned in what might be barely enough signatures to put the two laws up for a vote in the November 2008 election.
Conservative activists submitted what they said were about 63,000 signatures for each of the two referrals &
which after invalid signatures or flawed petition sheets are weeded out might still leave them with the needed 55,179 valid signatures.
"I can't predict the future; my money is on us making it," former state Sen. Marylin Shannon, spokeswoman for the effort, said after she and about a dozen other activists hauled nine boxes of signatures into the state Elections Division office late Wednesday.
Shannon and the others hope to derail a domestic partnership law giving same-sex couples most of the state benefits of marriage along with another new law banning discrimination against gays and lesbians.
State elections officials said it will take several weeks to verify whether there are enough signature to prevent the gay rights laws from taking effect Jan. — as scheduled and placing them before voters in 2008 instead.
Mary Conley, spokeswoman for Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, said petition sponsors usually are advised to try to turn in between 10 and 15 percent more signatures than the minimum needed in case some are ruled invalid.
In this case, Conley said, it appears backers of the referral effort submitted about 12 percent more than the raw number of signatures needed.
"They are within the margin to potentially reach the threshold of 55,179 valid signatures," Conley said. "But we won't know that until we examine the petition sheets themselves."
Gay rights supporters called it an anemic showing by opponents who under state law had three months to gather signatures.
"It shows that Oregonians simply weren't interested in this effort," said John Hummel, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon, the state's largest gay rights advocacy group.
Wednesday's signature turn-in was in marked contrast to the day in June 2004 when opponents of gay marriage turned in the highest number of signatures ever submitted for an initiative measure in the state's history.
The 244,587 signatures were amassed by the Defense of Marriage Coalitio, and Oregon voters handily approved the gay marriage ban in November of that year.
Opponents of Oregon gay rights laws submit signatures