OLYMPIA, Wash. — The numbers tell the story, and it is clearly one for the history books, regardless of how one feels about the outcome.
Official election returns compiled by the Washington Secretary of State’s office show the state’s voters on Nov. 6 OK’d same-sex marriage by a 53.35 to 46.65 percent margin — or 1,600,586 yes votes to 1,399, 598 no votes.
And so with the issuance of the first same-sex marriage licenses on Dec. 9 comes an end to concerned Christians’ unsuccessful effort to persuade the electorate in the Evergreen State not to back same-sex marriage. Washing-ton was one of three states nationally to approve it Nov. 6 — the first to do so by a direct public vote. The others were Maine and Maryland.
As expected, advocates of same-sex marriage were jubilant. On election night, according to Fox News, police closed off several blocks in Seattle’s Capitol Hill area as more than 1,000 people gathered for a late-night, impromptu election celebration, dancing and chanting “74, 74, 74.”
Joseph Backholm, director of Preserve Marriage Washing-ton, attributed his coalition’s failure to prevent passage of Referendum 74 to several factors. First, he said, Washington is a very liberal state. Also, the referendum was actively supported by the Seattle Times, a marijuana measure on the ballot also inspired a turnout of liberal voters, and large amounts of money were raised by same-sex marriage supporters.
Gary Randall of Faith and Freedom Network, who supported Preserve Marriage Washington’s efforts, noted also that the passage of the Referendum 71 “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law in 2009 eased the path toward full same-sex marriage this year. He furthermore said opponents of same-sex marriage were, sadly, divided in their strategies and efforts. “We are beating ourselves,” he wrote in his network’s blog.
In the same election, Washington voters also approved recreational use of marijuana, by 55.53 to 44.47 percent.
“From marriage to marijuana to euthanasia, people have voted against biblical values,” wrote Randall, referring also to Washington voters’ approval of physician-assisted suicide four years ago. “Is this God’s will? It is true. God is sovereign. Nothing can happen that He does not allow. While I strongly believe God is in control of all things, I also realize He often chooses to limit Him-elf, to a great extent, by what He and the Holy Spirit can do through His people.
“The pain of this past Tuesday will lessen with time, but we must not ever allow ourselves to return to the complacency that got us here. Or to forget the emotions of this tragic election.”
He said the evident confusion among traditional values proponents is not of God.
“Can we not reconcile with God and ourselves, choose new leadership and become the force for biblical values we can be?” Randall asked. “There are younger, honest, properly motivated leaders among us who feel called to lead on these issues. Can we not identify them and work with them?”
Unlike the state as a whole, Clark County voted to reject Referendum 74. The latest count as of press time saw the measure fail among county voters by 88,167 yes to 97,840 no, or 47.40 to 52.60 percent.
Greg Noelck, a leader in TruthandMarriage.org, a Clark County campaign against R-74, said “not enough people (from the Christian community) en-joined the battle” to defeat the measure statewide.
“Unfortunately, I think the majority of those of faith have come to believe that civil issues and politics are battles to run from instead of running to, because they think laws and policy do not influence people,” Noelck wrote in an e-mail to campaign friends.
He noted that while many locally were fasting, praying, and working diligently to see R-74 rejected, “God allows us individually and corporately to make decisions and then to live with the consequences of those decisions whether they are good or bad. For-tunately He does not allow us to be found very far from His mercy when we do make poor choices and thus experience negative consequences.”
But now, Noelck openly asked, what shall Christians concerned about the decline of their culture do from here?
“We may have lost this battle but the war continues to rage and other battles will come,” he wrote. “Will our choice will be to run from the battles or run to them? I choose to run to the battles and I hope to see you there running with me!
“As a friend of mine told me the other day, we may have lost this battle but God has taken note of those who stood up.”
Tom Hann, another Clark County resident also involved in efforts to defeat R-74, said he has been in a “state of disbelief since election night, questioning whether our churches are actually bending to the will of our culture versus the will of God.”
Hann said he had no misconceptions about the influence of King County and the Puget Sound area on the rest of the state, “but the weak response from our church leaders throughout the entire election cycle is disturbing. Some churches really stepped up, along with some amazing individuals who sacrificed great amounts of time. Our efforts were not sufficient, but not for lack of effort. Many new relationships have formed in Clark County as Christians came together to defend the biblical definition of marriage.”
Hann said he expects gay rights advocates to now push for public schools to teach all ages full acceptance of the gay lifestyle.
“My efforts are moving toward this area of focus with the launch of www.EdWatchClarkCounty.org. I pray parents will recognize what is happening and take a much more active role directing the education of their children.”