As Joel noted earlier today, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain who oversees the state's Catholic church has recorded a special message. Voters need to reject Referendum 74, he explains, because "we bishops reject the redefinition of marriage as a civil contract between two persons."
Here's one possible explanation: A PAC called Catholics for Marriage Equality, led by Seattle parishioners, has raised $23,806 for a counter-campaign against Sartain, according to election records. "You can be a Catholic in good standing and disagree with the bishops on this," says Barbara Guzzo, who runs the PAC and intends to buy newspaper ads in the next couple months taking her archbishop to task. And while she doesn't expect to change Sartain's mind, she does "hope to impact the laity to know that we have a moral imperative to follow our conscience, even when that means disagreeing with our church leaders."
"Marriage equality is something that should be provided to all people, and the church shouldn't stand in the way," Guzzo says. "It promotes the common good, love, and inclusiveness—what the gospel says."
Realistically, Sartain can't push much harder without losing his moral authority with his own flock. I think he knows it. And he's dialing back his fervor. At least, for now.