It really wasn’t a surprise when Washington’s secretary of state’s office announced June 12 that this November’s statewide ballot will include at least one measure related to marriage.
During the previous week, opponents of same-sex marriage had submitted more than twice the number of signatures required to get their Referendum 74 on the fall ballot. The petition drive — led largely by concerned Christian groups — had resulted in the most signatures ever collected for a referendum in the state — 247,331. A minimum of 120,577 valid voter signatures was required.
The successful petition drive has, for now, blocked implementation of the state’s new same-sex marriage law, which Gov. Christine Gregoire signed last February. It would have gone into effect last month, but is now suspended pending the voters’ decision this fall. If approved by voters, R-74 would repeal the same-sex marriage law.
Proponents of gay marriage expressed disappointment but said they are geared up not only for a tough campaign between now and November, but also intend to keep coming back even if they lose at the polls this year. State Sen. Ed Murray of Seattle, primary sponsor of the gay marriage law, said he will return on an annual basis with new legislation, if necessary.
Gary Randall of Faith and Freedom Network, one of the leading groups backing Referendum 74, said traditional marriage must be supported.
“We absolutely must win this November,” he wrote on his blog. “I believe every person who stands for marriage will do all they can to protect and preserve it from being redefined, by winning at the ballot in November.”
Meanwhile, last-minute petition efforts will conclude this month regarding another marriage-related measure in Washington — Initiative 1192 — and in Oregon, for Initiative 25, which aims to halt state funding of abortion.
Initiative 1192 seeks to define marriage as solely for one man and one woman. To make the ballot, 241,153 valid voter signatures must be submitted by July 8. At press time for this newspaper, an updated count of signatures gathered statewide so far was not available. Randall said his own organization had secured close to 80,000 signatures, but that he had not heard how efforts were going for other supportive groups. For general information on the initiative, go to protectmarriagewa.com.
In Oregon, about 50,000 signatures had been collected as of press time toward the 116,284 needed by July 2 to secure a ballot spot for Initiative 25.
Jeff Jimerson of Albany, co-petitioner on the initiative, wrote in an e-mail to campaign supporters in late July that efforts are intensifying as the deadline approaches.
“This has been a multi-year process of prayer, networking, and good old fashioned hard work,” he wrote. Hundreds of people around the state are actively engaged in Initiative 25, collectively gathering about 50,000 signatures so far. It’s been neat to see God put a team of people together, and see God working in the lives of those who have answered the call to be a part of this effort. I know He’s been doing many good things in my own life through this.”
Jimerson outlined several reasons for hope that the signature goal can be met. They include the fact that tens of thousands of petition sheets have been distributed, including to 2,400 churches statewide; increased awareness of the deadline by campaign backers; support from the Roman Catholic community and other denominations as well as some of the larger churches in the state; an e-mail campaign to reach one million Oregonians; and campaign ads airing on Christian radio in Portland.
“We’re now entering the ‘final hour’ of time to gather signatures to place this issue on the November ballot. It’s been 25 years since Oregonians have had a chance to vote on taxpayer-funded abortion.”
Jimerson is counting on a late surge of participation by concerned Christ-ians. At press time, he said that was happening. “There is definite momentum,” he told Christian News Northwest. “My e-mail and phone is non-stop.”
He said petitions sheets can be mailed postmarked as late as July 2, so petition drives in churches can go as late as Sunday, July 1. “We are expecting an avalanche of paper in the final week.”
According to Jimerson, one third of all abortions in Oregon are now funded by taxpayers through the Oregon Health Plan. He said this amounts to about $1.5 million in public funds spent on about 3,500 abortions every year.
For petition sheets, phone 541-497-1485. The campaign website is www.Oregon2012.org.
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