Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Washington State Ref 74 Ballot Language

A judge has now determined the language for the anti-gay Referendum 74 in Washington State. The objective of the referendum is to prevent legislatively approved marriage equality from becoming effective. Anti-equality forces have until June 6 to provide about 120,000 valid signatures. This requires submitting about 150,000 signatures.

The concise description:

This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.
The ballot-measure summary:

This bill allows same-sex couples to marry, applies marriage laws without regard to gender, and specifies that laws using gender-specific terms like husband and wife include same-sex spouses. After 2014, existing domestic partnership are converted to marriages, except for seniors. It preserves the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform or recognize any marriage or accommodate wedding ceremonies. The bill does not affect licensing of religious organizations providing adoption, foster-care, or child-placement.

It is instructive to revisit the signature gathering for the prior referendum campaign:

In April 2009, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill that expanded existing Domestic Partnership legislation. It protected both same-sex couples and senior citizen couples aged 62 and older.

In May 2009, Protect Marriage Washington lodged Referendum 71. They gathered signatures to prevent the expanded Domestic Partnership protections from being enacted. Referendum 71 was ultimately certified and placed on the ballot. Voters defeated the referendum in November of 2009 with 53% of the vote.

Here is the header that they used on each petition sheet:

In case you cannot read the boxes after "Highlights:"

"Protect Children?" Once again, those opposed to equality claimed that gays present a threat to children. Then they use the Frank Schubert nonsense about what is taught in schools. This talking point was said to be the reason that National Organization for Marriage won Proposition 8 in California and Question 1 in Maine.

Of course, marriage is not "taught" in K to 12. More importantly, if children find out that there are indeed gay people and that sometimes they unite in marriage, exactly what harm is done? "Over the objection of parents?" Those are probably the same parents who object to teaching evolution and global warming. These are the people whom mainstream Christians regard as whack jobs.

The expectation is that this dishonest campaign will be transferred to the R-74 enterprise. I am hoping that, this time, they will not be successful in gathering enough signatures.
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