Truth Wins Out on June 23 cited examples of antigay petitioners harassing and lying to WalMart shoppers in Bellingham and Chehalis, Washington.

On June 24, Driving Equality recorded the following incriminating video at a WalMart in Port Angeles:

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Chris Mason of Driving Equality recalls:

While in Port Angeles, Washington, we stopped at WalMart for a quick minute. (Interesting Fact: Port Angeles, WA is where the book and film “Twilight” takes place.) As I was walking into WalMart, I was stopped by a signature gatherer who asked my opinion on same-sex marriage. I told him that I am gay and we had a long conversation about equal rights.

After I bought some medicine at the pharmacy, I came back out to the van and grabbed my camera. I filmed the man collecting signatures for a bit, then I went over to talk with him. He was friendly and let me film him for a while.

We talked about his personal beliefs about same-sex marriage. He is in favor of equal marriage rights and would vote against the referendum if it gets on the ballot. He went on for a while about how gays deserve the same rights and that the church is wrong for trying to take those rights away. It was an interesting conversation.

Then it got even more interesting. He approached a woman and asked her if she supports same-sex marriage. When she said yes, he handed her the clipboard to sign the referendum. She though she was signing in favor of equal marriage. He tricked her, right in front of me, on camera. I called him out on it.

He said to her:

“Did you get a chance to sign our petition? We’re giving you an opportunity to decided whether or not you are in favor of giving homosexual couples legal marriage licenses. Not just the same rights as married people, but a marriage license too. Do you have an opinion on that? Yes? No? Or don’t care?”

The woman said yes, that she will sign, and he handed her the clipboard. It was obvious to me that she was signing what she thought was a petition in favor or giving same-sex couples marriage licenses. So I asked her if she supports same-sex marriage. She said that she did.

That is not it. The bigger deal is that, to collect signatures, he is telling people that the referendum is to stop same-sex couples from getting marriage licenses. That is not true. He is telling folks that same-sex couples would still receive all the rights of marriage with Domestic Partnerships, when in fact, the referendum they are signing has nothing to do with marriage; it would repeal the [new] Domestic Partnership law.

According to the Associated Press,

The underlying domestic partnership law, which passed the Legislature two years ago, provided hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations, and inheritance rights when there is no will.

Last year, lawmakers expanded it to give domestic partners standing under laws covering probate and trusts, community property and guardianship.

The referendum wouldn’t overturn the underlying domestic partnership and its first expansion. But it would roll back the additional rights granted this year.

In the video, the signature gatherer falsely states that the petition is about “marriage” when it is about domestic partnerships.

He says that “people will be voting on whether or not to give marriage licenses.” This is false; no marriage licenses are to be given under the state’s domestic-partnership law.

He says that this is “not about giving gays the same rights of marriage, but giving marriage.” This is a lie; the original and expanded domestic-partnership law grants key rights of marriage while preserving marriage as a separate civil institution.

He misleads shoppers into thinking that Referendum 71 is an attempt to give domestic-partnership rights when those rights exist already under the domestic-partnership law. The purpose of the referendum is to permit dishonest religious-rightist organizations and churchgoers to vote “No” and overturn the expanded law.

The Washington state media, Equal Rights Washington, Washington Families Standing Together, and independent writers have documented a persistent pattern of fraud by antigay, antifamily petitioners across Washington state. When will state officials come to their senses, punish flagrant fraud by antifamily conservatives, and nullify signatures gathered from shoppers who thought they were signing a very different petition?

Numerous religious leaders released the following statement in opposition to the antigay petition.


Religious Leaders Announce Support of Domestic Partnership Law

SEATTLE, Wash. — More than 85 clergy, religious leaders from faith communities and faith-based organizations from all across Washington state, released a joint statement today to announce their strong support for the Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill of 2009, which is being threatened with repeal by Referendum 71.

“Although people have the right to believe what they’re called to believe, this right does not include the permission to impose those beliefs on others,” said The Rev. Michael Denton, Conference Minister, Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Church of Christ. “The effort to deny same-sex partners and seniors the legal protections of domestic partnership is an effort to deny the rights of one group of people in order to impose the religious sensibilities of another group of people on everyone in the State of Washington. To protect the rights of domestic partners harms no one. Removing these rights would be immoral and unfair,” he said.

The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, Bishop, Olympia Diocese of the Episcopal Church USA, said, “It is, and will always be, for each faith tradition to decide what marriages it will perform and what marriages it will recognize, but this referendum is about domestic partnerships.” Bishop Rickel said it is wrong to withhold the basic legal rights provided by the domestic partnership law because some object to the legal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships. “To deny them, as well as seniors who are joined in domestic partnerships, the basic rights provided by the law threatens both families and our tradition of religious liberty,” said Bishop Rickel.

“I feel compelled to speak out in support of the domestic partnership law,” said Rabbi James Mirel, Senior Rabbi of Temple B’nai Torah. “Not only do I as a Rabbi find it harsh that there is an attempt to take away rights from loving families, I know from my history as a Jew that all too often the problems faced by a society are blamed on minorities,” said Rabbi Mirel. “The arguments being made against the domestic partnership law are dangerous because they suggest that providing gay and lesbian families with civil rights will somehow harm our society. The domestic partnership law strengthens families and is good for all of Washington.”

“As people of faith, we view the role of religion to nurture and support families, not to cast some aside,” said Rev. Paul Benz, Director of the Lutheran Public Policy Office of Washington State. “To deny gay and lesbian families and older couples their basic rights because of the beliefs of a few Christian right organizations threatens not only those families but our collective commitment to each other.”

Earlier this week, Washington Families Standing Together (WAFST), the statewide coalition supporting the domestic partnership law, announced that more than 40,000 individuals and over 115 organizations of all types have joined WAFST to oppose any attempt to repeal the law.

The Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill of 2009, adopted by the Legislature this past session, ensures that all Washington families are treated equally by providing the same rights and responsibilities to domestic partners (including heterosexual domestic partnerships where at least one partner is age 62 or older) as are provided to spouses under state law.

In 2007, the Legislature established the domestic partnership registry and granted registered couples rights to make health care decisions for a sick partner, to visit a partner in the hospital, to consent to an autopsy and manage some property rights issues. In 2008, the Legislature extended these rights to include community property rights, probate rights, joint responsibility for debts and other protections. The 2009 legislation is the third and final law to provide rights and protections for domestic partners and their families. The third law allows for death benefits for the partners of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty, pension benefits for partners of teachers and other public employees, the right to adopt a partner’ child without paying for an expensive home study and the right to use medical leave to care for a domestic partner.

FAITH LEADERS’ STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR WASHINGTON FAMILIES
AND THE DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP LAW

The undersigned religious leaders, from across Washington State, have come together to speak with one voice for all Washington families.

Religious leaders before us have spoken to end slavery, and to ensure equal rights to all persons regardless of gender, nationality, religion, and race. Today, we feel compelled to speak out in support of Washington’ domestic partnership law which provides essential protections to families throughout the state.

As people of faith, we oppose any effort to take away the rights and protections provided to families through our state’ domestic partnership law.

As providers of pastoral care to families, we know that gay and lesbian couples form loving, lasting, committed relationships, raise children and grow old together. These couples and their children have the same needs and deserve the same rights as their heterosexual peers. We also know that the domestic partnership law provides important protections to non-gay couples where one partner is at least 62 years of age.

As faith leaders, we care about all Washington families. We have seen first-hand the burdens on a family facing death or illness without important legal and financial protections, from access to healthcare, to the right to visit a partner in the hospital, to the right to make medical decisions for one’ own children. We have felt the worry that exists when a parent who is a firefighter or police officer goes off to work each morning knowing that if something happens to her, there won’t be support for her family.

The domestic partnership law is about the relationship between the State and families. Clergy and faith communities will remain free, just as they always have been, and always will be, to determine for themselves their own religious matters.

We join as the signers of this statement, as a principled expression of our deeply held religious convictions. We stand in support of all of Washington’ families.

(A partial list of religious leaders and congregations signing on the Washington Families Standing Together campaign to preserve Washington state’ domestic partnership law — as of 7-24-09)

RELIGIOUS LEADERS

* Organization listed for identification purposes only.

Reverend Melissa Anthony
Pastor Maynard Atik
Reverend Paul Benz
Rabbi Will Berkovitz
Reverend George Anne Boyle
Reverend Sandy Brown
Reverend John Cahall
Pastor Jocelyn K Carson
Pastor James Carter
Reverend Debra Conklin
Reverend Monica Corsaro
Pastor Craig Darling
Reverend Michael Denton
Reverend Lisa Domke
Rabbi Allison Flash
Reverend Catherine Foote
Reverend John Garlington
Executive Director Jessica Gavre — United Methodist Church*
Reverend Debbie George
Reverend Terry B. Hall
Reverend Bruce Harrington
Reverend Vicent Hart
Reverend Robert Henre
Reverend Gordon Hutchins
Reverend Dr. Beryl Ingram
Reverend Carol Jensen
Rabbi Bruce Kadden
Reverend Marilyn Kallshian
Reverend Elizabeth “Kit” Ketcham
Reverend Tamalyn Kralman
Reverend Vincent Lachina
Reverend Rich Lang
Rabbi Anson Laytner
Reverend Robert J. Lewis
Reverend John-Otto Liljenstolpe
Reverend John Lindsay
Reverend Silversity Madrazo
Rabbi Jessica Marshall
Pastor Joseph Miller
Rabbi Jim Mirel
Reverend Sharon Moe
Reverend Tad Monroe
Minister Peg Morgan
Reverend Weldon Nisly
Pastor Christopher A. Nolte
Program Coordinator Timothy O’Brien ‚Äî Northwest Dharma Association*
Reverend Scott Opsahl
Reverend Tim Phillips
Pastor Darrell Reeck
Reverend John Reitan
Reverend Cheryl Rohret Unity
Reverend Laurie Rudel
Reverend Dr. Lon Rycraft
Rabbi Daniel Septimus
Cantor David Serkin-Poole
Reverend Gary Shoemaker
Reverend David Shull
Pastor James Simpson
Rabbi Beth Singer
Rabbi Jonathan Singer
Reverend Monty Smith
Reverend David Strong
Pastor Sharon Swanson
Reverend Arthur Vaeni
Reverend Douglas Wadkins
Father James Walley
Reverend James Watson
Reverend Steve Willis
Pastor Alice Woldt
Reverend Melvin Woodworth

ORGANIZATIONS
Bethany United Church of Christ
Hillel University Washington/J-Connect Seattle
Micah Project of First United Methodist Church of Tacoma
Northwest Dharma Association
Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Ravenna United Methodist Church
Saint Benedict Episcopal Church
Seattle First Baptist Church
Temple Beth Am
Temple B’nai Torah
Trinity United Methodist
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Whidbey Island
Wallingford United Methodist Church
Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation