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Religious Tolerance logo

Efforts to legalize same-sex marriage (SSM) in Washington State

Conservative Christian & Muslim cooperation.
Polling data. Referendum 74 to be held on NOV-06.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay ....

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2012-MAY-24: Cooperative efforts between conservative Christians and Muslims:

The Seattle Times reported that during May, several areas mosques requested thousands of Referendum 74 petitions for their members. Further, they expect to campaign together with religious conservatives to repeal the SSM law. Reporter Lornet Turnbull wrote:

"While Islamic leaders in this country have been reluctant to speak out against gay marriage, their religion considers it haram — forbidden.

Aziz Junejo, a frequent speaker on Islam, who hosts a weekly cable-television show and writes a Faith & Values column for The Seattle Times, said the majority of Muslims want to support Ref. 74.

'It's pretty clear from an Islamic perspective we have to support this issue because Islamic marriage is between a man and a woman,' Junejo said.

Estimates of the number of Muslims in the state vary widely, but most put the number at more than 50,000.

[Joseph] Backholm [of Preserve Marriage Washington], said Muslim leaders took the initiative and reached out to the Ref. 74 campaign, not only requesting thousands of petitions to be circulated in their mosques, but offering to work in partnership through November.

'Christians and the Muslims have not always worked that well together,' he said. 'Here is a place of commonality. We are building bridges'." 1

Readers to the Seattle Times article posted 834 comments over 72 hours after the article was published. Some examples:

  • Peter St wrote:

    "Christians and the Muslims have not always worked that well together," he said. "Here is a place of commonality. We are building bridges."

    Ironic that they're building bridges of intolerance.

  • jim98122x wrote, in response to an earlier posting:
    "For thousands of years, every culture around the world has recognized that a marriage is only between a man and a woman."

    You mean like all those men in the Bible and Koran who had multiple, or dozens of wives? You mean like that?
  • darbari wrote:

    Finally the good gay and lesbian folks of the world are bringing peace and harmony among all the religions. Mullahs and pastors are now brothers in arms. No more religious wars! Is the Nobel committee listening? Can we get a peace prize?

    By the way, didn't Mohammed have four wives? So much for 'one-man-and-one-woman-for-thousand-years' rhetoric.

  • Ajarn wrote, in response to an earlier posting:

    "It's pretty clear from an Islamic perspective we have to support this issue because Islamic marriage is between a man and a woman . . . "

    Substitute Islamic with Christian, Jewish, Norman, or any other religion and my response is the same. I'm NOT [of] your religion. You have no right to tell me how to live my personal life and to exclude me from basic HUMAN rights based on your religious beliefs.

    If you believe marriage is only between men & women that's Ok with me - you have the right to believe what you want. But don't foist your beliefs on me and the rest of society by attempting to enact or repeal PUBLIC laws. PUBLIC is not a religion. 1

Perry Gordon, a supporter of same-sex marriage, was interviewed about his views on SSM. 5 He described it as a matter of equality. He asked heterosexual voters in the state to consider their conscience, saying: "Would you want somebody to tell you that the only recognized marriage should be between a man and a man or a woman and a woman? How would you feel about that?"

Joseph Backholm, the chair of Preserve Marriage Washington, said: "The current definition of marriage works and has worked." He raised the slippery-slope argument, that if we allow same-sex couples to marry, that marriages among three people, or incestuous marriages would be the next step. He said: "We have to think about the precedent we're creating." 5

Zach Silk, campaign manager for Washington United for Marriage, expects both sides to raise millions of dollars. He said: "It's fair to say it's going to be an extremely expensive race." 5

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2012-JUN-06: Reactions by marriage equality groups; polling data:

Washington United for Marriage, is leading the ballot fight to defeat Referendum 74 and support the SSM law. 2 Campaign manager Zach Silk said:

"I wouldn’t suggest that it’s a settled issue. Our opponents are very good, and every time this has come to the ballot it has won." 3

Strategies 360 asked "likely voters" the question: "Do you think it should be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples to get married?" 4 This is a biased question, because:

  • Same sex marriage is a matter of availability or lack of availability, not a legal or illegal act. Some people would probably prefer that same-sex marriages be unavailable to same-sex couples, but some voters might associated the term "illegal" with a jail sentence.

  • Also, the terms "gay" and "lesbian" are often used as snarl terms with highly negative associations.

A more neutral question would have been something like: "Do you think that same-sex couples should be able to get married?"

They found:

  • Among all voters:
    • 54% favor SSM (47% of men and 61% of women);
    • 33% oppose SSM (38% of men and 29% of women).

  • By gender:
    • 47% of men and 61% of women favor SSM;
    • 38% of men and 29% of women oppose SSM.

  • By political affiliation:
    • 87% of Democrats, 22% of Republicans, and 52% of Independents favor SSM;
    • 7% of Democrats, 61% of Republicans, and  36% of Independents oppose SSM.

  • By age
    • Favoring SSM are 63% of persons 18-34; 64% of those 35-44; 53% of those 45-54, 50% of those 55-64, and 44% of those 65 or older;
    • Opposing SSM are 26% of those 18-34, 31% of those 35-44, 34% of those 45-54, 35% of those 55-64, and 40% of those 65 or older.

  • By race:
    • 56% of Whites and 50% of non-whites support SSM;
    • 32% of whites and 37% of non-whites oppose SSM.

Unfortunately religious affiliation was not identified. If it had been, one might expect that most Protestants would be found to heavily oppose SSM, while most Roman Catholics, members of a non-Christian religion, secularists, and religiously unaffiliated persons would heavily support SSM.

This was a small survey, involving only 500 randomly selected persons who expected to vote in November. It was conducted between 2012-MAY-22 and 24 by American Directions Group, a telemarketing firm specializing in surveys. The margin of error at the usual 95% confidence level is ±4.4%. 4

We speculate that SSM opponents will start their campaign emphasizing that if SSM is made not available, that same-sex couples would still have all the legal protections of married. If this does not sway sufficient voters, we expect them to resort to the fear-based ads commonly used in past anti-SSM battles. Still, a 21 percentage point margin is a formidable hurdle for them to overcome. It may well be a nasty battle, with truth and reality the first casualties.

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2012-JUN-14: Washington Secretary of State approves referendum:

The Secretary of State announced that the official count of signatures collected by opponents to SSM had been counted. They have approved Referendum 74 for inclusion on the ballot for election day, 2012-NOV. Backers of the referendum now have two major hurdles to overcome:

  1. To convince over 50% of the voters to repeal the law. As noted above, this will require a major effort, and might be out of reach.

  2. If they are successful, then they will have accomplished what Proposition 8 did in California during 2008-NOV: the termination of a SSM by a popular vote. Prop. 8 is currently being challenged and the 9th U.S. Federal Court of Appeals has determined that Prop. is unconstitutional. In all probability that decision will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. If they rule in favor of the Court of Appeals' decision, then Referendum 74 may be overturned along with Prop. 8.

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This topic continues in the next essay ....

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References used in this essay:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Lornet Turnbull, "Opponents of gay-marriage law get unexpected aid: from Muslims," Seattle Times, 2012-MAY-24. at:
  2. Washington United for Marriage's home page is at:
  3. Kirk Johnson, "Opponents of Gay marriage face tougher test in Washington State," New York Times, 2012-JUN-06, at:
  4. "A survey of likely voters in Washington: MAY-2012," Strategies 360, at:
  5. Mike Baker, "Opponents block Washington state gay marriage," WSET-TV, Virginia, 2012-JUN-06, at:
  6. Jason Wilson, "Four states to put marriage equality on November ballot," 2012-JUN-14, Equally Wed, at:

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Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2012-MAR-13
Latest update: 2012-JUN-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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