Down the street from the Irrigation Festival Grand Parade, two groups rallied for and against same-sex marriages outside of Sequim Bible Church, 847 Sequim Ave., on Saturday, May 12.
Church leaders organized a signing of the petition for Referendum 74, which would put the Legislature’s Marriage Equality Act, signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire in February, to a vote by the public rather than allowing it to take effect on June 7. The referendum petition, started by Preserve Marriage Washington, would need 120,577 voter signatures by June 6 for the question to be placed on the November ballot.
Those against Referendum 74 rallied after seeing a full-page ad from the church in the Peninsula Daily News.
Rev. Dave Wiitala for Sequim Bible Church said his group received more than 200 signatures Saturday and as a church submitted about 800 total since starting in early April.
“This is about all citizens having the opportunity to vote on if marriage is between a man and woman,” he said. “I believe that and clearly scripture backs that.”
About 50 people lined both sides of Sequim Avenue in opposition of Wiitala and others’ opinion.
“Sequim does not need bigotry,” Sharon Cone of Port Angeles said. “We need to have each other no matter what. I attend a church too. We go to the Olympic Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and everyone should be welcome.”
“I think it’s terrible that the church takes out a full-page ad to discriminate,” Jeff Paladino said.
Wiitala, also the Referendum distributor for the North Olympic Peninsula, said he’s been getting a large response from churches and individuals.
“What’s happening is a lot of churches are doing it quietly,” he said. “We’re hearing stories of people bringing it to their bible studies.”
The two events ran peacefully with little incident.
Lt. Sheri Crain with Sequim Police Department said there wasn’t a call for service at the events, but someone driving by contacted one of the officers managing a parade-route detour and asked him to speak with protestors about not waving their signs over the roadway.