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Opponents of gay marriage file signatures for referendum

Washington became the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage when Gov. Chris Gregoire signed Senate Bill 6239 into law Feb. 13 at the Legislative Building in Olympia. Hundreds of supporters packed the State Reception Room. - Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror
Washington became the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage when Gov. Chris Gregoire signed Senate Bill 6239 into law Feb. 13 at the Legislative Building in Olympia. Hundreds of supporters packed the State Reception Room.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/Federal Way Mirror

Opponents of the same-sex marriage law blocked the law from taking effect Wednesday by submitting more than 200,000 signatures in opposition of marriage equality.

“We have never doubted they would be able to get enough signatures,” said Joshua Friedes, an Equal Rights Washington spokesperson.

Preserve Marriage Washington submitted the signatures Wednesday, the day before the law would have gone into effect.

“The current definition of marriage works and has worked,” said Joseph Backholm, the chair of Preserve Marriage Washington, according to The Seattle Times.

State officials will review the signatures during the next week to decide whether legalizing same-sex marriage should appear on the November ballot for public vote in the form of Referendum 74, Friedes said.

“The important thing for people to understand is we will need to approve Referendum 74 in order to retain Washington state’s marriage equality law,” he said. “People who believe that gay and lesbian couples should have the right to legally marry will need to vote ‘approve’ on Referendum 74 in order to keep the law that has already been passed and signed by the governor.”

If the referendum is approved, gay and lesbian couples will be able to marry 30 days after the vote, he said.

Rachel Smith-Mosel of Federal Way said she expected opponents of same-sex marriage to gain enough signatures and believes this is democracy in action.

“At the same time, we’re voting on people’s lives,” she said. “That’s very different than voting for an increase in taxes to pay for highways. But we believe that Washingtonians are fair-minded, and we believe that a core value in Washington is that all families deserve respect and protection.”

She and her partner, Sandy Mosel, have been married in California, where Smith-Mosel is from, as well as in Canada, where Mosel was born. They are also domestic partners who raise a family together in Federal Way.

“I serve my community,” Smith-Mosel said. “I’m a teacher, I’m a foster parent. When I finish my day ... I don’t want to worry that my family has a lesser status or less legal protection. I want to be able to rest in the same protection as any other committed couple.”

While Friedes is encouraged by the public momentum and poll results that reflect positively toward the passage of the referendum, there is still more that needs to be done. “What people have to do is talk to their friends and family about why marriage matters, share personal stories about gay and lesbian families that they know and make sure that they are registered to vote and vote to approve Referendum 74,” he said. “We expect this to be very, very close.”

 

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