Gay marriage foes to fight expected US law
03 February 2012, 16:55
Seattle - As gay couples and their supporters
cheered the Washington state Senate's passage of legislation to legalise
same-sex marriage, opponents were already considering how to take down
the anticipated law.
By a 28-21 vote on Wednesday night, the
state Senate passed legislation to legalise gay marriage, with
exemptions in place for religious organisations opposed to conducting
same-sex weddings or renting their facilities for gay nuptials.
Republicans joined 24 Democrats in supporting the bill, which would
make Washington the seventh US state to allow same-sex matrimony. Three
Democrats sided with 18 Republicans in opposing it.
now heads to the state House of Representatives, where Democrats hold an
even wider majority and the bill's passage by a comfortable margin is
expected as early as next week. Governor Chris Gregoire, a Democrat, has
said she would sign a gay marriage bill into law.
With the bill
seemingly headed for swift enactment, several efforts by opponents are
shaping up to rally Washington state voters against the prospective law.
Their options included two possible ballot measures in November - a
referendum to repeal the gay marriage statute outright and an initiative
defining marriage as being exclusively between one man and one woman.
National Organisation for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage,
has pledged to provide financial backing for conservative challengers to
the four Republican senators who supported the bill when they run for
Steven Andrew, president of the USA Christian Ministries in California,
has called for a national boycott of Starbucks in response to the
Seattle-based company's endorsement of the gay marriage bill, and for
Christians to stop serving the coffee brand at their facilities and
"Starbucks can follow Satan if they want to. However,
pastors are to help Christians. Are you on the Lord's side? Will you
help the USA be blessed by God?" he said in a written statement.
Asked about the call for a boycott, Starbucks repeated its longstanding support for equality of gay men and women.
is proud to join other leading Northwest employers in support of
Washington state legislation recognising marriage equality for same-sex
couples," the company said in an e-mail to Reuters.
initiative to define marriage as between heterosexual couples, led by
Everett, Washington attorney Stephen Pidgeon, needs to gather 241 153
signatures of registered voters by July 6 to secure a spot on the
A referendum to repeal gay marriage would only need 120
577 signatures by June 6, but supporters of that measure must wait until
after Gregoire signs the bill before starting to collect them.Enthusiastic
guess is that foes of gay marriage will be going with the referendum
challenge, since it takes fewer signatures and it gives a direct vote up
or down on gay marriage," said Dave Ammons, spokesperson for the
Washington secretary of state's office. "The initiative seems to be a
Pidgeon, aged 57, said he would support the repeal
referendum, too, but noted that his initiative can get started sooner
and is not based on what lawmakers decide to do.
"We have a
tremendous amount of enthusiasm about the initiative. People are gearing
up, and we're going to move ahead strongly, and I believe quickly," he
said. "We already have hundreds of churches that have already pledged
thousands of signatures."
Without the referendum challenge, a gay
marriage law would take effect June 7, 90 days after the March 8
conclusion of the legislative session. If the referendum qualifies for
the ballot, the law would be suspended until the November election and
certification of the returns, meaning December 6, before it is either
repealed or goes into effect.
Under the initiative process by
contrast, gay marriages could proceed on June 7, regardless of the
ballot-qualification process. It is unclear whether any unions
officiated in the meantime would be nullified if Pidgeon's measure were
to pass in November.
There is precedent in California for
handling such a situation. California's Supreme Court legalised gay
marriage in 2008, only for voters to approve a constitutional amendment
six months later defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Restoring marriage
state's high court ruled that the 18 000 same-sex couples who tied the
knot between May and November, 2008, were still legal.
Plante, regional coordinator for the New Jersey-based National
Organisation for Marriage (NOM), said that his group plans to back the
referendum effort, but will "keep the initiative in our back pocket".
going to go forward as a united group because what's more important
than the process is the end game of overturning this law and restoring
marriage to its rightful definition," he said.
His group has not
decided how much money it could provide for a ballot campaign to ban
same-sex marriage, Plante said, but he estimated that such an effort
would cost over $2m.
The group said it will also follow through
on its pledge to spend $250 000 to defeat the Republican senators who
voted for the bill, should they seek office again.
have to understand that there's a price to pay for voting to redefine
marriage - it is not what the people of Washington want," Plante said.
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