Several Seattle priests have refused to allow anti-gay petitions inside their parishes, despite the the fact that the Catholic hierarchy invited petitioners into local churches as part of a campaign to repeal the state's marriage-equality law.

News first broke this afternoon when St. James Cathedral pastor Michael Ryan said he refused to circulate the petitions because it would "prove hurtful and seriously divisive in our community." That bucked Seattle Archbishop, J. Peter Sartain's recent invitation to run a signature drive for Referendum 74 in all local Catholic churches.

But Father Ryan is not alone in drawing the line—more Catholic churches are also resisting Sartain's political dictates and, apparently, hewing more closely to the city's progressive Catholic laity.

"You may have heard about a petition drive concerning Referendum 74, which will be gathering signatures at a number of parishes in Seattle," says a statement on the home page of St. Joseph Catholic parish on Capitol Hill. "Please be aware that Fr. Whitney has decided that no petitioning will be permitted anywhere on the campus of St. Joseph. Please contact Fr. Whitney with any concerns."

Sources tell us that other parishes—while I have not confirmed, because it's just after 11:00 pm—are also bucking the hierarchy's invitation to run the anti-gay signature drive in the parishes. My own alma matar and former parish, St. Therese, has reportedly rejected invitations to circulate petitions for Referendum 74. St. Mary in the Central District and St. Patrick on north Capitol Hill have also taken the stand.

Interesting—this could be another big year for Catholic America.