Washington, D.C. — Though a bit few and far between, there are a few people here who are from the Northwest.
Speaking this morning on a panel of local leaders who oppose same-sex marriage atthe state level, Joseph Backholm, the director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington and the chair of the anti-R74 group, Preserve Marriage Washington, made it clear to the cultural conservatives that they have ideological allies far away from more “red” states.
“We’re way up in the corner, and everyone writes us off as a lost cause,” he says. “But this is a national movement, and what happens to one of us, affects everyone.”
Backholm, who’s been a crucial organizing force in gathering enough signatures to get R74 on the ballot, knows he has a tough sell to Washingtonians, especially in Seattle, to some.
But while more liberal on this issue, as a state “we are a beachhead in this movement,” he says, referring to the larger, national fight for and against same-sex marriage.
“We have the right of referendum, which is a blessing.”
That referendum, he says, forces people to make a false choice.
“People support same-sex marriage … as a way to prove that they don’t hate gay people,” he says. He compares the situation to the early anti-abortion debate in the 1970s, and the need to reframe it.
As part of that process, Backholm insists that the domestic-partnership laws in Washington give the same rights as traditional heterosexual marriage, but that the state shouldn’t be the one defining the latter.
“We must be able to penetrate that narrative [the narrative that says that voting against the referendum is tantamount to discrimination], he says. “We do treat same-sex couples equally.”