Gay marriage opponents closer to qualifying R-74

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Opponents of gay marriage say they have more than half of the signatures they need to qualify a proposed referendum seeking to overturn a law legalizing gay marriage in Washington state.

Joseph Backholm, with Preserve Marriage Washington, said Wednesday that the campaign has 70,000 signatures on hand. Backers of Referendum 74 need 120,577 valid voter signatures in order to qualify the referendum for the ballot. The secretary of state's office recommends that campaigns submit about 150,000 signatures in order to provide a cushion for invalid or duplicate signatures.

The law allowing gay marriage was signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire in February and takes effect June 7. However, if the backers of R-74 collect the necessary signatures by the June 6 deadline, the law will be put on hold pending the outcome of a November vote.