SEATTLE — A Seattle gay man has embarked on a personal letter writing campaign, contacting Washington residents who backed a failed 2009 measure that sought to overturn the state’s “everything but marriage” civil unions law, in hopes that his story might discourage them from supporting this year’s effort to overturn the recently passed marriage equality law.
Paul Thomasson has emailed about 2,000 residents who signed the petitions supporting Referendum 71 in 2009 — those petitions were made public five months ago.
Thomasson theorizes that those who signed the petitions and voted for Referendum 71, are likely to support Referendum 74, which aims to overturn Washington’s marriage equality law that was approved in the state legislature in February and signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire.
“You don’t know me,” Thomasson begins his email, “but you may soon be in a position to have an effect on my life.”
“I can’t know what motivated you to sign the petition for R-71, but I sincerely hope and pray that you will not sign the petition for R-74,” he wrote.
“People are basically good and tolerant,” Thomasson said. “My intent was to let them know there’s an actual human being affected by their decision.”
Thomasson, who works in human resources at Boeing, was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, and was discharged in 1995 under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on openly gay service members. He launched the first constitutional challenge to the policy, which he lost.
The group Preserve Marriage Washington, a coalition that opposes same-sex marriage and filed Referendum 74, hopes to collect 120,577 signatures by June 6 to place the ballot measure before voters in November seeking to repeal Washington’s law.