And the state’s anti-gay brigade is already disbanding.
Yesterday, Larry Stickney, president of the Washington Values Alliance, filed referendum 71 to repeal the state’s domestic partnership bill. And today, Gary Randall, head of Faith and Freedom PAC, writes on his blog, “Dozens of organizations are standing together on this issue." But it appears several supporters, including one of their most vital allies, have jumped ship.
Pastor Joe Fuiten, a director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington—the state wing of Focus on the Family—sent an email to his flock yesterday denouncing the referendum. First, Fuiten weighs the benefits of support, including “making a statement of belief."
Fuiten then enumerates a longer, more cogent list of reasons not to run a referendum. Primarily: A referendum would lose. “Both the polls that I have done plus what others have done consistently show us behind to a considerable degree,” he says. Second: Due to large voter turnout last year, the referendum would require 20,000 more signatures than in 2006, when Tim Eyman failed to gather enough signatures to qualify a referendum for the ballot to repeal the gay civil-rights bill. Third: People don’t care about taking away gay rights in this damned economy. Which takes us to the fourth reason: “The economic downturn has impacted a number of people who have been very supportive of this type of effort in the past,” he writes. But, Fuiten thus implies, if folks did have the money to invest in stripping rights from gay families, they would be all for it—what better way to spend your last few cents than impinging the financial and insurance rights of struggling gay families, right?—but folks don’t have the money. Fifth: If they lose a referendum, it would illustrate what a bunch of out-of-touch bigots they really are, and then the homo-lovin’ legislature would surely legalize same-sex marriage (I’m paraphrasing).
“My belief is that it would be a mistake to run a referendum,” Fuiten concludes before getting all bible-y. “I also know that when Israel decided to enter the Promised Land without God's blessing they were soundly defeated. … If I felt that God was telling us to go ahead, I would do it in a heartbeat.” But god, we gather, has been silent as a mime.
Fuiten then quotes several pastors, the head of Human Life of Washington, and the state director of Concerned Women for America who have also said they no longer support running a referendum.
Fuiten threatens to run an initiative in 2010, “rather than … a knee-jerk reaction to someone else's action.” Of course, anything they do is a knee-jerk reaction to an effective, deliberate strategy. As Dan says, "we’re winning"—in Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut. But here in Washington, we’re not just incrementally winning; the conservatives are losing, and they’re doing it on their own.
Their finances are also a mess. As of this morning, the Washington Public Disclosure Commission reported that no group has filed to run referendum 71. They have two weeks to file with the PDC after beginning to fundraise or spend money on a referendum, says Doug Ellis, assistant director of the PDC.
But back on April 13, Randall was already fundraising for a referendum. In an email sent out to his mailing list, Randall wrote, “Thank you for your support as we expand our efforts in preparation for an initiative or referendum to defend marriage. Click here [link removed] to make an online, tax-deductible donation to Faith & Freedom.” The link goes to the Faith and Freedom’s 501(c)(3) donation page. Of course, Faith and Freedom Foundation, the tax-deductible wing, cannot spend that money on a referendum, but it was raising money "to expand our efforts" for a referendum more than two weeks before the paperwork was filed. Did Faith and Freedom breech state rules by fundraising disingenuously for the wrong organization and not reporting it? Ellis today says, “The disclosure commission is looking into it.”
However, the die-hards are still committed. Randall writes on his blog this morning: “Today, we are asking for your most generous donation to Faith and Freedom PAC." But generous donations or not, the referendum is losing support, even from some of its staunchest allies.