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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 6, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Referendum 71: Should opponents be surprised at its number of signatures?

Lessons to learn from California’s Prop. 8

It appears California’s Proposition 8 of last year has spawned a Northwest imitator in our own Referendum 71, which now seems likely to appear on the November ballot here in Washington.

Proponents of gay rights should frame their response to this measure after considering the precedent of California, where a well-funded campaign against gay marriage mobilized religious people and won at the ballot box. We must avoid making the same mistakes as Prop. 8’s opponents if we are to preserve the civil rights of gay couples in Washington.

Washington gay-rights groups plan to combat this measure by publicly exposing the signers of the Ref. 71 petition, but this petty tactic did more harm than good in the fight to save gay marriage in California. Rather than resorting to name-calling and negative campaigning, Washington activists should seize this opportunity to advance the case for equal rights and address the religious objections to their views.

We might as well take advantage of our position in the shadow of the Golden State. The greatest tragedy would be if Ref. 71 should pass despite the obvious advantage of knowing how the same debate played out in California.

— Walter Martin Smith, Seattle

Agenda-driven citizens forget others disagree

Here’s the answer to how Referendum 71 gathered enough signatures to be on the ballot [“137,689 names later, gay community asks: How did they do it?” page one, August 3]. Look no further than the first sentence of the article, “The odds seemed almost insurmountable.”

There seems to be a disconnect with agenda-driven citizens, our governor included, in the belief that everyone agrees with them. In this case it led to a surprise for the gay-rights activists.

There are a great many of us who desire to keep the definition of marriage as a legal and/or spiritual union between a man and a woman. Not because we hate gays, not because we fear gays, not for religious reasons or fear of change — but simply because marriage is between a man and a woman. Please accept this as a difference of opinion. I respect your right to your opinion, now please respect mine.

Regarding the recent University of Washington poll suggesting 77 percent of voters believe gay and lesbian couples should have at least some of the same benefits as married couples. This can be accomplished with a civil union. I am not opposed to the recognition of gay and lesbian families as Josh Friedes of Washington Families Standing Together also states, but I am just opposed to same-sex marriage.

It has been very frustrating to be confronted with vitriolic rhetoric concerning my intelligence and character when opposing these issues. I agree voters need to look ahead in their consideration of Ref. 71 because it is critical stepping stone to same-sex marriage, not a step everyone wants to take.

— Deanna Sundvick, Woodinville

Gregoire’s delay tactic only hurt cause, process

What people should be angry about as Bill Dubay, a longtime gay activist, puts it, is Gov. Chris Gregoire’s delaying tactic by signing the legislation as late as she could to interfere with the referendum process and the attempted extortion by other activists regarding the signers’ names being published online.

Dubay should redirect his concerns to explaining his position clearly and with the thought of what this legislation can or cannot accomplish for the general public. Many signers of the petition may have signed because of the tampering with the referendum process by the governor and gay activists.

I know I would have.

— Brad Olschefski, Bellevue

Comments | More in Gay marriage, Gay rights, Politics, Seattle, State initiatives

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