Anti-gay crusader Larry Stickney, whose organization, Protect Marriage Washington, filed a referendum on May 4 to repeal Washington State's domestic-partnership bill, wrote on his website that allowing gay marriage "will demolish the historical understanding and definition of marriage as that of uniting a man and a woman for life."
But Stickney himself—married three times and divorced twice—has not been united in marriage "for life." And, during his second marriage, his wife made serious allegations of domestic abuse.
Records from the Kitsap County Superior Court show that in 1994, Stickney's then-wife Cheryl alleged that he "badly injured" her twice, breaking her eardrum by hitting her in the ear. She also accused him of "[stealing] and destroy[ing] things belonging to my son and myself." A superior court judge issued a restraining order against him, granting Cheryl temporary custody of the two children and requiring Stickney to stay away from the family home.
Several months later, Cheryl filed for divorce. In a final divorce decree, a judge required Stickney to pay roughly one-third of his monthly income in child support payments, barred Stickney and Cheryl from entering each other's homes, and gave custody of the two children to Cheryl.
Again according to court documents, Gail Buesnel—a certified marriage, family, and child therapist who held multiple sessions to counsel the children on the divorce—wrote a report on her findings. "They both complained that Mr. Stickney plays too roughly with them," said Buesnel's report, which is included in court documents. On one of his visitations, "Mr. Stickney spanked [his daughter] with a spoon with sufficient force to leave marks on her." She concludes, "Mr. Stickney needs to rethink some of his approaches and behaviors with his children." Soon thereafter, Stickney attended anger-management classes.
Although friends and family members defended Stickney as a caring father in declarations to the court, his discord with his family continued for more than a decade. In 2006, Stickney argued in the Kitsap County Superior Court that he should not be required to help pay his daughter's college tuition. He noted that he has six children living in his home (including three children he had with his current wife, Pollyanna Stickney), $310,000 in mortgage on two homes in Arlington, Washington, and more than $30,000 in credit-card debt. Nonetheless, the court ordered him to help pay for his daughter's education.
Stickney isn't the only Protect Marriage Washington board member whose actions fall short of his family-values rhetoric.
State representative Matt Shea's (R-4) marriage ended in an acrimonious divorce in 2007; his wife, Lisa, alleged physical and domestic abuse, obtaining three temporary restraining orders and a protection order. And the campaign's primary spokesman, Gary Randall, failed to pay more than $30,000 in taxes ["Representation Without Taxation," Dominic Holden, April 30].
Neither Shea nor Stickney returned calls for comment.