Some Washington state churches in split over gay marriage

A handful of Roman Catholic churches in Washington state, whose Catholic governor signed a law allowing gay marriage earlier this year, have refused to circulate a petition endorsed by their archbishop to repeal the law, congregation leaders said.

Opponents of same-sex marriage, due to go into effect this summer in the state, have been rallying conservative religious leaders to gather the 120,577 signatures they need by June 6 to secure a spot on the November 2012 ballot for their repeal push.

A bulletin from Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who testified against the gay marriage bill, and the Washington State Catholic Conference has asked parishes to participate in the signature-gathering effort and “do everything you can to uphold the traditional definition of marriage in our state.”

“We bishops have already made known our strong opposition to the redefinition of marriage, and we will continue to do so,” the letter said. “Because we believe that this issue is critically important, we … have approved the gathering of signatures in our parishes over the next few months.”

But the archdiocese technically left it up to congregation leaders to decide whether to directly collect signatures, and seven Seattle-area parishes have opted against it. The petitions were expected to begin circulating in many churches on Sunday. [More]


Reuters/Chicago Tribune