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Originally published Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 10:05 AM

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Wash. gay partnership foes try to shield signers

State officials won't resist a temporary restraining order that would block public release of petition signatures for a gay-partnership referendum.

OLYMPIA, Wash. —

State officials won't resist a temporary restraining order that would block public release of petition signatures for a gay-partnership referendum.

The case centers on Referendum 71, which would ask voters to approve or reject expanded partnership rights for gay couples.

The names of everyone who signed R-71 petitions are publicly available under open-government laws.

A gay-rights group is planning to post all the names online, so partnership supporters can talk to those people about the referendum.

But the R-71 campaign says that could lead to harassment. So they're asking a federal judge to keep the petitions secret, until they can make their argument in court.

Elections officials expect a full hearing on the merits of the complaint.

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