Pastor Joe Fuiten walked into the Washington Secretary of State's office this morning to file a referendum attempting to overturn the same sex-marriage law that lawmakers passed last week. One problem: Governor Chris Gregoire hadn't signed the bill yet. So election workers turned him away with a 3:30 p.m. appointment to return (after the bill was signed), says Secretary of State's office spokesman David Ammons. Also this morning: Family Policy Institute of Washington director Joseph Backholm waltzed in with his own, separate plans to file a marriage referendum. Same problem, of course.
"I'd heard for a few days that they are not in sync on this," Ammons says.
"It will be interesting to see if they can come to an agreement on running the referendum, otherwise they are dividing their energy and resources," Ammons continues. He points out that, while advocates can file multiple challenges to the same bill, "You cannot combine the signatures form 1, 2, 3, 4 petitions" to qualify for the ballot.
The divisions between anti-gay activists run deep. The somewhat more measured Fuiten, for example, has long feuded with incendiary Pastor Ken Hutcherson. Whereas both men run hardline mega churches on the Eastside, Fuiten spurned the 2009 campaign to overturn a domestic partnership law that Hutcherson and Backholm supported. Fuiten may have ties to the money, though. He announced earlier this month that he'd secured $1 million from an out-of-state donor, who, by all likely calculations, is the Catholic-church-linked National Organization for Marriage.
All that said, divisions in 2009 didn't stop their referendum from making the ballot (ultimately their campaign failed, though). If they make it to the ballot again with this bill—as seems certain with all that Catholic cash—marriage will remain in limbo until the fall election.