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Originally published Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 4:08 PM

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Wash. judge rejects challenge to R-71

A judge has cleared the way for a public vote on expanded domestic partnership benefits in Washington state.

Associated Press Writer

OLYMPIA, Wash. —

A judge has cleared the way for a public vote on expanded domestic partnership benefits in Washington state.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee issued his ruling on Referendum 71 Tuesday afternoon.

Gay-rights supporters filed the lawsuit, claiming that state election officials improperly accepted thousands of petition signatures.

The referendum's sponsors want voters to reject the "everything but marriage" law passed by the Legislature.

The law would give registered domestic partners more rights, putting them on par with married couples under state law.

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