Campaigners seeking to repeal the US state of Washington’s same-sex marriage laws are calling for Catholic churches to collect money on their behalf in violation of the states political fundraising laws.
Preserve Marriage Washington has been asking churches to collect ‘all [cash] envelopes from donors, put them in a larger mailing envelope, put your church name and return address on the mailing envelopes and send it via regular US mail [to us]’
According to Washington’s state Public Disclosure Commission no third party organization can legally be an intermediary for a political donation.
Churches can urge parishioners to donate and hand out donation envelopes to parishioners but parishioners must either hand the envelopes to a representative of Preserve Marriage Washington themselves or post them to the organization.
But a spokesperson for Preserve Marriage Washington denied they were in breach of the state’s political contribution laws.
Preserve Marriage deputy campaign manager Christopher Plante claimed that the campaign's fundraising process was "completely compliant with the Public Disclosure Commission 's rules.
‘The [Public Disclosure Commission] has in no way communicated with the Catholic church, or with Preserve Marriage Washington,’ Plante told the Seattle Times.
‘We are confident that our legally reviewed materials comply with all of Washington state's campaign finance requirements.’
However a Public Disclosure Commission spokeswoman told the Times that it would be contacting Preserve Marriage Washington and the local Catholic diocese over the fundraising arrangement.
‘If someone from [Preserve Marriage Washington] asked me ahead of time, “Can this happen?” I would have said no,’ the spokeswoman said.
‘We think that they're wrong and potentially giving people advice that could get them into trouble.’
Opponents of same-sex marriage in Washington state have raised nearly half a million dollars. But supporters have raised $6.1 million.