The parish of the Catholic Cathedral of St. James in Seattle has refused to participate in the collection of signatures in favor of an upcoming referendum that would protect the definition of marriage as one man and one woman.
The referendum needs 120,000 signatures from Washingtonians before June 6 to stop the legislature from redefining marriage, instead letting the people vote on the issue. Archbishop J. Peter Saritan of the Archdiocese of Seattle and his auxiliary bishop issued a statement in which they support gathering signatures for the referendum.
But in another statement of the pastor of Archbishop Saritan’s cathedral, Fr. Michael Ryan, Fr. Ryan states that the bishop did not require parishes to be open to signature gathering, but the bishop merely allowed permission for pastors to either allow or disallow gathering signatures.
Based on this discretion, Fr. Ryan declares that he is not allowing gathering of signatures to support the referendum. After talking to his pastoral ministry team, Fr. Ryan decided that allowing signatures to be collected “would, I believe, prove hurtful and seriously divisive in our community.” In an explanation to local news, Fr. Ryan added that “We have a lot of gay and lesbian people here, we have many people who have great support and understanding.”
Archbishop Saritan has been active in other ways to support preserving the definition of marriage as one man and one woman, for example by testifying against the legislature’s redefinition effort, and by posting an action alert on the archdiocese’s website.
Some media are reporting that a couple other archdiocesean parishes have refused the signature drive as well. Washington state media, for example the editorial board of the Seattle Times, are calling attention to the parish’s refusals to argue that they exhibit the same sentiment of the legislature: that preserving the definition of marriage as one man and one woman is unfair and mean-spirited.