They say the early bird catches the worm, and certainly the rather notorious lawyer Stephen Pidgeon is hoping that maxim holds true given he has filed for a November ballot initiative to repeal same-sex marriage in Washington — even though the Legislature hasn’t yet taken up a bill to legalize marriage equality.
“We believe this issue is even more volatile than domestic partnerships,” Pidgeon said. “The voters should get to vote on it. Let’s see what they think.”
Pidgeon’s initiative would alter the current state statute’s definition of marriage from a civil contract between a male and a female to “between one man and one woman.”
The clarification is needed because [Pidgeon says] legalizing gay marriage “will lead to the liberalization of marriage laws to allow for polygamy and other forms of relationships.”
Pidgeon and supporters, assuming they are given the go ahead for the signature gathering process, will have until July 6 to amass the requisite 241,153 valid voter signatures in order to put a repeal before voters in November.
Pidgeon’s 2009 ballot effort to prevent an expansion of domestic partnership rights, known as Washington’s Referendum 71, was defeated by the general public.
Perhaps the fact that he has so quickly filed to bring about a public vote on the as yet untouched marriage equality law is a back-handed compliment that legislation will indeed pass. Whether it would survive a public vote is, however, another matter.
The vote tally for support in the Washington Senate remains two committed votes shy of passage, but there are thought to be a number of legislators — both Democrat and Republican – that may be open to supporting the bill. The Washington state House, with a 56-42 Democratic majority, is expected to have enough support to pass a same-sex marriage bill without wrangling.
The same-sex marriage legislation will have its first public hearing on January 23.