The state of the Anti-Marriage Equality camp in Washington State

It’s always interesting to read about the power struggles going on (mostly behind the scenes) within the anti-gay and anti-marriage equality camps all around this country. Well Washington is no different. It would seem some on the anti-marriage equality side are not happy that Backholm of the Family Policy Institute (The Washington State Branch of the Family Resarch Council) decided to file for the Referendum alone (with the aid of NOM). Cue Gary Randall with Faith and Freedom Network:

However, I am disappointed that other leaders in the state were not included as signers on the referendum.

It does make a difference. It is important. It can be very important. Some will remember Referendum 65, some years ago, and the public fight that followed between two individuals. It was not productive. Frankly, it was embarrassing.

I, along with many others who have been planning and working toward the effort to overturn SB 6239, have advocated that Representative Matt Shea, Senator Val Stevens and Pastor Ken Hutcherson should have been included or have even been the only signers on the Referendum.

This comes in the wake of the re-branding of “Stand For Marriage Washington” into “Preserve Marriage Washington”. As Jeremy Hooper over at the LGBT blog Good As You put forward, this re-branding effort wasn’t merely a name change so much as it was a way to kick aside (and silence) the more extreme elements of the anti-gay side here in Washington State:

But should there be, it’s a certainty that some outside group like Schubert Flint Public Affairs will step in and take the reins of the thing. And when they do? The more extreme voices, no matter how engaged they’ve been in the past, have a way of being tucked away in a closet. This happens every time (See Mike Heath in Maine circa 2009; Randy Thomasson during Prop 8; Ron Baity in North Carolina this year; etc.).

In Washington state, my they’ll-hide-’em-away money’s on longtime voice of hostility Ken Hutcherson. While he’s been the most prominent face of Washington’s various anti-gay efforts, both in state and nationally, Hutcherson has proven a willingness to say and do whatever he damn well pleases, pragmatism be damned. For instance, there was that recent example where he compared his Governor to John Wilkes Booth. There have been accusations of gays supposedlytrying to turn Christians into “the new negro.” Hutcherson’s also committed the cardinal “pro-family” sin of turning on his own, vocally accusing conserva-giant Focus on The Family — major player in state marriage efforts — of going too soft. These are the kinds of things that don’t play well when the bright lights of a campaign come around.

And it would seem Hooper is right.  Hutcherson certainly could be said to be alluding to the betrayal of being swept aside by those in his own movement when he wrote this:

I expect to be disliked by the non-believing world but when you are disliked by believers….

If we do not learn this truth in Washington State very soon and have the church work in unity then we will fall for the trick of light fighting light which leads to defeat, instead of light standing against the darkness which leads to victory.

As Laurel Ramseyer at Pam’s House Blend also notes, a news story over at Rueters refers to Backholm as the “head of the Preserve Marriage Washington Coalition”. This would seem to confirm what Hooper was saying; that Backholm (with NOM’s help) has pushed the more vocal elements of the movement aside in hopes that the tainted past of someone like Hutcherson (who has a history of putting his foot in his mouth that is unparalleled) wont sink their ship. Although I’m not sure that Backholm’s history is all that much better, as Ramseyer has been demonstrating in her posts.

The Rueters article also notes that Stephen Pidgeon, one of the former members of the Stand For Marriage Washington Coalition with Backholm (and a former ally with Backholm at Protect Marriage Washington when the R-71 battle was heating up in 2009) has created his own coalition called….. “Protect Marriage Washington” (They could use some creativity counseling with these names). Unlike Backholm, Pidgeon’s coalition is vying to get an Initiative (I-1192: Which would redefine marriage as between only one man and one woman) on the ballot for November. And it doesn’t sound like Backholm and Company on are board to the same extent that Pidgeon is:

“In principle, everyone’s trying to accomplish the same things,” Backholm, 33, said. “But it would be amazingly confusing.”


Pidgeon, who has spent weeks haggling with state officials over the final ballot language for I-1192, said he supports the referendum but argued his initiative can get started sooner and has broader implications than responding to a specific law.

It isn’t much of long shot to say that it’s unlikely that Pidgeon will get enough signatures to get his Initiative on the ballot. It would require at least 241,154 signatures to be delivered July 6 (and of course, at least that number would have to survive the verification process). NOM and Backholm know this, and that’s why despite pretending as though they “support” Pidgeon to a certain degree, they won’t even begin to think about throwing the deep pockets that a group like NOM can tap into behind the Initiative effort. In short, the anti-gay side isn’t as unified as they once (perhaps) were and some of the more outspoken anti-gay activists’ are being sidelined while Backholm and NOM try to clean up the mess their side has created with their history of horrid rhetoric. That could be good news for Marriage Equality Proponents in this State.

If this is any indication of the way things will be going in the future, this isn’t the last time we’re bound to see some of this spill out into public. I’ll try to keep you all as up to date as I can on this ongoing shuffle and bustle in the anti-gay movement here in Washington as we move closer into the closing stretch of the fight over marriage equality.


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