Judge considers release of Ref. 71 petition names

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TACOMA, Wash. (AP) -- A federal judge is considering whether Washington officials should disclose the names of people who sought a vote on a domestic partnership law.

U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle heard arguments Monday and said he planned to issue a ruling in about two weeks.

Opponents of a law that expanded gay partnership rights in 2009 managed to get enough signatures that year to force a public vote, although voters still approved the measure in Referendum 71. The petition organizers are now fighting to protect the names of those who signed on to support it, arguing that they could face harassment.

A lawyers with the attorney general's office argued that the names should be released because the public has a right to assess the documents to uncover fraud or improper handling.