Rally against gay-marriage law draws crowd
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Karen Potter of Rochester, left, and Leona Handley of Olympia hold icons of Mary Magdalene and Our Lady of Vladimir, respectively, during a rally against Referendum 74 on Saturday at Port Angeles City Pier.
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Amanda Morgan of Poulsbo, a member of Washington United for Marriage, holds a sign calling for the approval of Referendum 74 to legalize same-sex marriages during a rally at Port Angeles City Pier by a group calling for the measure’s rejection. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — About 150 people turned out Saturday to express their opinions on Referendum 74, which if approved by voters in November would allow a bill passed by the state Legislature earlier this year that removes mention of gender from the state's definition of marriage to become law.

Most who showed up at the Port Angeles City Pier pavilion were there as part of a rally organized by Sequim Bible Church and Preserve Marriage Washington to urge a vote on Referendum 74 that would reject the law that originally was to come into effect in June.

Opponents of the law, referred to as the gay-marriage law, gathered signatures for the referendum, which asks voters if Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 should be approved or rejected.

Opponents of a SB 6239 are urging voters to vote “no” on the referendum in the Nov. 6 general election.

A “yes” vote would approve the gay-marriage law.

Handmade signs urging a “no” vote on the referendum bobbed throughout the crowd as people mingled before the start of the rally at 1 p.m.

Building block

Joyce Kirsch, a Sequim resident, said she thinks marriage between a man and a woman is a building block of human culture and that redefining it would endanger society.

Bea, a Sequim resident who declined to give her last name, said she was at the rally supporting the current definition of marriage in Washington as between a man and a woman.

She said she is in support of the current definition so that her grandchildren, who are in their mid-20s, will not be confused about what marriage should be.

Five speakers took the stage of the City Pier pavilion to explain their opposition to SB 6239, saying they think it would restrict the rights of those who support traditional marriage rather than give more rights to same-sex couples.

Paula Ranney, a volunteer with Preserve Marriage Washington, said during her speech that children need both a mother and a father to have the best chance to do well later in life.

“We want you to vote to reject [SB 6239],” Ranney said to the crowd.

Ranney also said a “yes” vote would not give same-sex couples more then they already have under Washington's “everything but marriage” law, which bestows upon same-sex couples rights similar to those given to heterosexual couples.

Effect on business

Joseph Backholm, director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington and one of the lead filers of Referendum 74, said removing the language from Washington state law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman would unfairly compel private businesses owned by people who do not support gay lifestyles to give same-sex couples services.

He said he feared such business owners would be subject to lawsuits.

“There should not be a price tag on a conscience in Washington state,” Backholm said, receiving a burst of applause from the crowd.

As Backholm spoke, Port Angeles resident Jeanine Cardiff stood quietly toward the back of the crowd among others who plan to vote yes on Referendum 74 holding a sign in favor of SB 6239.

In an interview after Backholm's speech, Cardiff said she believes she and her partner have just as much compassion and love for each other as any heterosexual couple and that limitations should not be placed on their ability to share marriage because of their gender.

“What marriage is is two human hearts,” Cardiff said. “It is a deeper issue than gender.”

Lyle Courtsal, who was videotaping the rally, said it shouldn't be the state's job to define who can and cannot get married.

Courtsal said he supports the change in marriage definition because it would allow same-sex couples to feel they are an accepted part of society in the state.

Cardiff and Courtsal were two of about 40 to 50 supporters of Washington United for Marriage, the lead committee raising money in support of a “yes” vote on Referendum 74.

According to the most recent reports made available through the Washington Public Disclosure Commission, Washington United For Marriage has raised about $8.4 million and spent $2.2 million.

Preserve Marriage Washington has raised roughly $1 million and spent about $309,000 to lobby for “no” votes.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 06. 2012 6:12PM
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