Opponents of Referendum 74, the ballot measure that would legalize gay marriage in Washington State, are correct when they argue that church groups and individuals who disagree with gay marriage could find themselves facing stiff legal sanctions.
Supporters of the measure have embarked on a slick, well-funded propaganda campaign in an effort to convince Washington voters that gay marriage is the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel.
Part of that effort includes assurances that the referendum “protects the rights of clergy, churches, and religious organizations that don't perform or recognize same-sex marriages.”
But those assurances ring hollow when examined through the lens of history.
It is true the referendum specifically says the law would “preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.” But what about everyone else?
Left wing activist judges and unaccountable, unelected “Human Rights” Commissioners have a long history of twisting and perverting the law to silence and intimidate gay marriage opponents.
Consider, for example, the case of Elaine and Jonathan Huegeunin, Christian proprietors of Elane Photography who refused to to take pictures of a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony.
The couple complained to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, who ordered the small Christian company to pay $6,637.94 in attorneys’ fees.
The New Mexico Court of Appeals upheld that decision and declared that gay rights trump religious freedom. This despite the fact that religious freedom is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Appeals Court Judge Tim Garcia went on to say that states can order Christians to violate their faith if they wish to conduct business.
This is by no means an isolated example.
In January of this year, a New Jersey judge ruled that a church-affiliated organization “violated state discrimination laws when it refused to allow a same-sex union on its own property in 2007.”
Individuals have also come under fire for opposing gay marriage.
In May, boxer Manny Pacquiao was banned from a popular Los Angeles shopping mall for opposing gay marriage, and a Florida teacher who voiced opposition to New York's gay marriage law was suspended from his position.
In voting against Gov. Gregoire's bill, state Senator Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley) cited a New York case where a part-time county clerk lost her job because she felt she could not sign a same-sex ‘marriage’ license shortly after the state legalized gay marriage.
“She found someone else on the premises who was willing to sign it for her, but that was not good enough,” he recalled. “Not only did she lose her job as a court clerk, but upon hearing of her opposition to the legislation redefining marriage, activists began a protest of her rural farm.”
Padden introduced an amendment to protect state workers in Washington from facing the same sanctions, but the amendment was defeated.
“Unfortunately the majority party rejected other important attempts to protect the rights of Washingtonians, as well as an amendment to attach a referendum clause to the measure and put it before voters on the fall ballot. The people of the 4th Legislative District, and all of Washington, deserve the last word on a subject of this magnitude,” he said at the time.
Such incidents are far more common than the so-called “mainstream media” like to admit.
If Referendum 74 passes, these kinds of incidents could easily happen in Washington State.
Supporters of the measure like to say, “live and let live.”
Unless, of course, one opposes gay marriage. Then it's “Katy bar the door.”
Joe Newby is an IT professional who also writes as a conservative columnist for Examiner.com covering politics, crime, elections and social issues, and offers hard-hitting commentary at his blog, the Conservative Firing Line.