As expected, it will not be smooth sailing for Gov. Chris Gregoire's bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Yesterday, an Everett attorney filed an initiative that would reaffirm the state's commitment to preserving the Defense of Marriage Act. Passed here in 1998, it defines marriage as between one man and one woman and is the law of the land in 37 states.
The measure, drawn up by Stephen Pidgeon and delivered to the secretary of state's office on the first day of the new legislative session, would also ensure that the volatile issue be brought before voters in November.
In essence, the intent of the initiative, which will require backers to gather 241,153 valid signatures by July 6, wants clarifying language because Pidgeon maintains that legalizing same-sex marriage "will lead to the liberalization of marriage laws to allow for polygamy and other forms."
Pidgeon, who has worked in the past with groups who tried -- unsuccessfully -- to overturn the state's domestic partnership law with Referendum 71 in 2009, could not be reached for comment this morning. Yesterday, he told the Associated Press: "We believe that the critical issue here is, does the word marriage have particularized meaning, and if so, we need to secure that definition as a matter of law."
Filing of the initiative comes two days after state Sen. Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, told a whipped-up crowd gathered for a town meeting on Whidbey Island that gay marriage will not fly in Washington without voter approval.
As Joel Connelly reported in his Strange Bedfellows column for Seattle PI.com, Haugen, an influential and moderate Democrat told the assemblage filled with gay rights supporters, "I will tell you they will not have the votes in the state Senate without a vote of the people."