Marriage Equality Opponents File Paperwork for Voter Referendum in Washington State

Opponents of same-sex marriage in Washington filed paperwork seeking a referendum on the newly signed marriage equality law, less than three hours after Governor Chris Gregoire signed it into law yesterday, the SeattlePI reports:

BackholmThey have until June 6, a political D-Day for collecting and submitting 120,577 valid voter signatures to put marriage equality on the November ballot.  The right of same-sex couples to wed would be blocked until voters decide the issue.

 "Marriage is reserved for a man, a woman and the children that they raise," said Joseph Backholm of the Family Policy Institute of Washington. The state of Washington should not be "validating" gay and lesbian relationships, Backholm told reporters at the Secretary of State's office.

Sponsors of Referendum 73 include groups at the right end of the political spectrum such as Concerned Women for America and the National Organization for Marriage.  The campaign is being mounted under the banner of a group called Preserve Marriage Washington.  Backholm predicted that the campaign will be "expensive", with estimates in the $2-4 million range for each side.

Jeremy Hooper notes that Preserve Marriage Washington, formerly known as The Stand For Marriage Washington Coalition, has already positioned itself as extreme, and has a new website with new stock photos!

Here's NOM's official statement:

"Preserving marriage as the union of one man and one woman is worth fighting for," said Brian Brown, NOM's president. "Marriage is a cornerstone of society that not only unites a couple to each other, but ensures that any children born of their union will have the best opportunity to be raised by their own mother and father. We're committed to giving Washington voters the right to decide the definition of marriage in their state, just as voters in 31 other states have been able to do."


  1. JCT says

    I am -so- looking forward to the day when this stupid talking point (“33 other states, except for Washington, and um, Maine in November 2012”) is demolished, and NOM will have to eat crow … also, Washington state will have marijuana legalization on the Nov. 2012 ballot, so there -will- be a motivated youth vote, if “R-73” makes it to the ballot.

  2. DRG says

    Does anyone else feel that these Voter referendums will actually blow up in their faces at some point. It seems to me that public support for marriage equality is changing at an exponential rate. I think if voter referendums keep appearing during elections with extremely high turnouts and people actually know what they are voting for (unlike prop 8)it may backfire.

    Meanwhile, this is why we need ruling’s like that of the federal appeal to prop 8. Like so many other civil rights issues that have come before, we need the SCOTUS to rule against excluding our civil rights or our status of equal citizens will always be dictated by the majority and heavily influenced by the religious right.

  3. MikeH says

    @JCT – agreed, I’m sick of it also. It’s very sad that gay couples are going to have to wait until at least November. Unfortunately it won’t be hard for the haters to collect their 120000 signatures…

  4. Tom in long beach says

    Never will I understand why it is so important to keep us from getting married that supposed “people of faith” will spend millions that could be used for so many other more worthy causes. They see a state treating us fairly as validating something they see as a choice. A choice that upsets their narrow world view. But it is not a choice.
    We need a truce in the supposed “culture war” because we the LGBT people could also spend the money on better things than having to fight “those” people.
    NOM and friends need to read their history about what a wasted cause all the wars of religion in Europe, and the crusades were.
    They are being a horrible witness for what should be the Christian message of Love, Peace and Joy.

  5. Chuck Mielke says

    The voter referenda will, indeed, blow up in NOM’s face eventually. Average citizens are becoming aware that marriage equality is a transparent act of fairness and liberation. The recent 9th Circuit ruling, in addition, makes it clear that opposition is based on misstatements, lies, and fear-mongering. Rick Santorum is near to the mark when he claims what he does about the Court’s ruling; the irrationality he cites is the desire of people who “think” like himself to be lead by liars and hypocrites.

  6. says

    My husband is Irish (American born) while his parents immigrated from Waterford City (on the south coast of Ireland) in 1977 and became naturalized citizens in the 80’s. They return often and my husband’s sister maintains the family farm in Waterford (yes, home of the crystal).

    OTOH, I’m French (born here) and my great grandparents migrated from Chantilly (France). I have five brothers, two of whom maintain/manage a family vineyard and farm in Chantilly.

    Greg (husband), Steven (son) and I visit one or the other every year (or so) and like any same-sex married couple traveling between the countries, have faced some panic and/or disdain. Ireland can be tough, whereas the French are more accommodating.

    We are legally married in California and so far have not had any problems with that status in the States. For that I am thankful. We’ve stayed in hotels in both European countries and have never been denied a room together. On occasion Customs has assumed we are related (brothers) because we maintain the same last name but Greg is a brunette with brown eyes while I am blond with blue eyes and our son is a brunette with blue eyes. Customs has never asked who’s the parent of the child as we are both listed as his parent.

  7. Gay American says

    I say TAKE PICTURES and LOTS of them – of ALL those who OPPOSE EQUALITY…and REMIND them – that THOSE PICTURES ARE PART OF HISTORY Now…and thier FACES will FOREVER Be associated with BIGOTRY…..they’ll be Equal to GEORGE WALLACE in that way…and THEY WON’T be able to erase it……so thier Ugly mugs will be enshrined for all future generations to see.

  8. HadenoughBS says

    Once again the homophobic gay hate machine churns out another legal effort to prevent gay Americans from having their marriage civil right in Washington state. One day the majority of US citizens will look back on GLBT struggles with shock and dismay that society could have been so oppressive. May I live long enough to experience that day!

  9. Robert in NYC says

    I wonder if there’s a way to verify the signatures? I wouldn’t mind betting that if the haters come up short, they’ll falsify signatures to make up for the shortfall or even falsify some to make it look larger than the requisite 120,000, even by getting people living outside the state to create fictitious names and addresses in the state. Either way, I would love to see the names published, to expose their bigotry and cowardice.

    I think once NOM’s appeals run out and they are ordered to disclose their own donor list, referenda may decrease once bigots realize that they’re financial support isn’t anonymous or secret.

  10. gr8guyca says

    Washington State is within the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit Court.
    They found that, in states that already have civil unions, the denial of the term “marriage” serves no purpose other than separate and belittle a specific group.

    So, even if that measure passes, it would still be struck down by the Court eventually.

    @Tom: Great point. The money spent on opposition could be used in much better ways to help others. So much for Christian values.

    @Malcolm: I share your concern, but when David Boies is asked that he says, “I know how to count.” Many of their arguments are based on the previous Kennedy ruling; everything they are doing is with him in mind. And I think Scalia should be forced to recuse himself after the anti-equality statements that he has made in the past.

  11. says

    @GR8GUYCA – I agree. I think that’s a big reason why the Governor pushed so quickly to get the law signed. Once granted, the right to marry cannot be taken away. I think we’ll see more state Governors doing the same. We need to push this as a civil rights issue to put those Governors who refuse to sign a marriage-equality law in the spotlight (like Christie) leaving them with the reputation of Gov Wallace. Shame them and they’ll have little choice.

  12. Hue-Man says

    Protect Marriage is an incorrect name since Gov Gregoire set pen to paper. It more properly should be known as “Redefine Marriage”. Has the referendum wording been released and does it recognize that the marriage definition includes marriage of two men or two women?

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