‘Special’ Church Collection Against Gay Marriage Unlawful

The Washington Public Disclosure Commission last week told local churches that they cannot collect money on behalf of groups aiming to defeat Washington’s marriage equality law at the ballot this November.

This comes after concerns were raised that Catholic churches in the state were preparing in early September to collect money in sealed envelopes in a so-called special collection on behalf of the political action group Preserve Marriage Washington. This would appear to break the so-called “bundling” prohibition present in Washington state law that bans third parties from collecting on behalf of a political group.

Reports the Seattle Times:

Preserve Marriage Washington’s website includes a “church tools” section, where it asks churches to collect “all envelopes from donors, put them in a larger mailing envelope, put your church name and return address on the mailing envelopes and send it via regular U.S. mail” to the campaign.

Lori Anderson, a spokeswoman for the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), said Thursday that she wasn’t aware of Preserve Marriage Washington’s notice on its website but would look into it.

She noted that no organization, like a church, can be an intermediary for a contribution.

Preserve Marriage Washington, a group that though it denies it, seems closely affiliated with the National Organization for Marriage, has been told that while it is able to go into churches and collect funds itself, churches cannot be collecting on the group’s behalf.

Anderson is further quoted as saying that, had state finance officials been consulted, this problem could have been avoided.

Reports CBS Seattle:

Anderson said letters were being sent Thursday to the Yakima Diocese and the Catholic conference, and she expects to speak with Preserve Washington soon as well.

“If someone from the campaign asked me ahead of time, ‘Can this happen?’ I would have said no,” Anderson said. “We think that they’re wrong and potentially giving people advice that could get them into trouble.”

Preserve Marriage Washington denies that it has broken any such rules and says it has remained in full compliance of state finance laws. It is unclear whether the churches themselves had misinterpreted the law or, in fact, were even aware of the ban.

Preserve Marriage Washington currently lags behind its opponents in fundraising, having amassed only $471,000 compared to the near $6.1 million raised by Washington United for Marriage who is campaigned to support the bill.

The pro-equality group was given a substantial boost by a donation from Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and his wife, who together pledged $2.5 million to the cause. The group has said that around $5 million will be reserved for television advertising. It will need to spend every penny wisely, however, because marriage equality has yet to prevail when put to a public vote.

The November referendum, dubbed R-74, will ask voters whether they wish to “approve” or “reject” the state’s new marriage equality law that was signed by Governor Gregoire in February.


Related Reading:

Lawsuit Over Washington’s ‘Prejudiced’ Marriage Referendum Title

Gov. Gregoire Signs Washington Marriage Equality Bill

Microsoft Supports Marriage Equality in Washington

WA Lawyer Moves to Repeal Gay Marriage (Before It’s Even Been Legalized)


Image Credit: ColinBroug.


Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin5 years ago

Positive to know the pro gay marriage group gets more money than the opposition. But very sad to see civil rights being subject to a public vote. What's next: African Americans rights? Women's rights? Disabled Americans rights?

Michael G.
Michael T5 years ago

@Sarah writes This is just the government putting their nose into our religion which is exactly what the founding fathers of our great country were protecting us from. There is NOTHING in the constitution about separation of church and state. That can ONLY be found in a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote.

Actually Sarah, this is government putting a stop to religion sticking its nose into places it doesn't belong. Which is exactly what the founding fathers of our great country were protecting us from. There is NOTHING in the constitution about separation of church and state. Really? It makes me wonder what version you are reading. If it is stamped with Fox News at the bottom or is from an over the top religious site, I'd toss it out and get the REAL version.

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch5 years ago

When will we just let others love whom they want, without all this hate?

Phillipa W.
Phillipa W5 years ago

what I want to know is how is it that Christo-Judaic people can claim that marriage is THEIR institution and unique to them and they can decide who can and can't wed when they are such recent religions (Judaism - 1400BC, Christianity, about 40-something AD popularized 400AD) and people were getting married LOOOOOOOOOONG before these religions were ever spawned.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill5 years ago

This is just the government putting their nose into our religion which is exactly what the founding fathers of our great country were protecting us from. There is NOTHING in the constitution about separation of church and state. That can ONLY be found in a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote.

Churches also take up special collections for many other things!

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B5 years ago

Telling the congregation what to believe, trust and support must be a habit hard to break. Using the influence and authority of the church to make people give money for a political end the hierarchy support is illegal.Fair enough.They shouldn't be doing it.

Terry V.
Terry V5 years ago

To think this is the 21st century..........................

Gina H.
Gina H5 years ago

Rob... how does GLBT marriage tear down your history and traditions? Are you married to just one woman still? Is that we want to marry because of love instead of sex and ownership that makes a mockery of your version of marriage? Not that marriage stops most men from getting sex "on the side". See, this is about constitutional rights within a government. The GLBT community has no interest in forcing fundamentalist religions of having "ceremonies" in your churches. It really is something that is NOT your business because it is about marriage between two conscenting adults either in a GLBT-friendly environment. Again, this is about you being free to practice YOUR PERSONAL religious beliefs still and the rest of us NOT BEING FORCED into your religion. Funny how people like you forget that people came the the US to ESCAPE religious persecution.

Gina H.
Gina H5 years ago

Jean P., where did you get your 70% opposed to same sex marriage figure from? NOM or your church? ABC published a poll done recently that indicated 56% of the US population was IN FAVOR of same sex marriage rights. Funny how "good xtians" like yourself put every last penny into denying rights for others via government yet scream bloody murder when government tells you that you can't collect to prevent rights for others. You still against interracial marriage as well? You really have to strongly dislike something to put that kind of energy and money into fighting it. It blows me away that people like you don't put more resources into keeping pedophiles out of your pulpits and off the street. The only time people like you seem to have a problem with this is when it involves the Catholic Church and little boys so you can blame it on gays. Sugar coat your bigotry all you want but hate is hate. People like you help fund xtian domestic terrorists who shoot doctors or bomb health clinics, mosques and GLBT gathering places while you sit on your couches at home cheering the murderers in the name of your god.

Jean P.
Jean Potts5 years ago

The gov. telling a church what they can and cannot collect for? Are you kidding me? (Did the Gov. ever investigate where Jeremiah Wright's church's contributions went-- I heard some REAL hate there subversive talk about our country)
Being opposed to same sex marriage does not constitute hate.. That sure has become a convenient label for anyone who bases their opinion on Scripture. If 70% oppose gay marriage in our country-- let the majority rule..
Let the 'legal union' status prevail to protect any 'live-together' couples of any combination.