Know Thy Enemy
Meet the Four Men Most Obsessed with Stopping Gay Marriage in Washington State
They've introduced bigoted legislation, filed referendums, held rallies, and raised money—but they've never gotten around to explaining how gay couples actually hurt their marriages. They've also allegedly done things like failed to pay taxes, raised rents on the elderly, and beaten their wives. They say their battle is a righteous one, but these four crusaders are short on righteousness and long on catacombs in the closet.
GARY RANDALL, a former televangelist, is a cofounder and board member of Protect Marriage Washington, the group trying to repeal Washington's new domestic-partnership bill by putting it up to a public vote with Referendum 71. He's also the president of Faith and Freedom—technically three groups: Faith and Freedom Foundation, Faith and Freedom PAC, and Faith and Freedom Network—which campaigned in 2006 against Washington's antidiscrimination bill to protect gay people from hate crimes. Randall owns a house in Oregon and is registered to vote there, so he doesn't really have a stake in Washington laws.
IN HIS CLOSET: In the week between May 21 and May 28, Randall asked his blog readers to donate to the referendum four times. But he didn't ask them to donate to the organization running the referendum, Protect Marriage Washington; he asked his flock to donate to his own personal organization, the Faith and Freedom PAC. The Faith and Freedom umbrella has been a successful fundraising machine for Randall and has paid him handsomely—$53,877 in 2006 for an average of only 15 hours of work a week, for example—but public records indicate he hasn't been keeping up with income taxes. He owes at least $38,491.63, which includes a $2,479.04 Oregon tax debt from 1991, according to the Clackamas County Clerk's Office, as well as two federal tax liens the IRS filed against him in 1990 and another in 2008. Asked by The Stranger to explain the glut of unpaid taxes, Randall hung up the phone.
JOE FUITEN used to be tight with Gary Randall, but he opted out of Randall's campaign for Referendum 71, predicting that voters would uphold the domestic-partnership bill. "When Israel decided to enter the Promised Land without God's blessing, they were soundly defeated," Fuiten, the pastor of Cedar Park Church in Bothell, wrote to supporters. "If I felt that God was telling us to go ahead, I would do it in a heartbeat." Instead, Fuiten proposes running an initiative in 2010 to repeal partnership rights for gay couples. He described same-sex marriage as "anarchy" to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2004. "In the biblical law, homosexuality is always condemned," he said.
IN HIS CLOSET: But how does biblical law apply to housing the elderly and poor? For decades, Cedar Springs Camp in Lake Stevens provided low-cost housing, renting houses for no more than $150 per month to retired missionaries and church folk—until Fuiten's church bought the Bible camp and jacked rents by 83 percent over three years, a lawsuit filed by 19 residents alleged. (As Horsesass.org, which broke the story, put it in 2006: "Fuiten... took control of its board by assuming $150,000 of debt, promising to run the camp without major changes... But avarice knows no bounds, and Fuiten has methodically set out to evict the camp's small residential community...") The church denied the allegations. "They thought they could embarrass me into giving them everything they wanted just by suing me," Fuiten told The Stranger. The dispute was settled out of court this February. Fuiten thinks coverage of the dispute has been "biased."
LARRY STICKNEY grasps the value of marriage. He has been married three times (and divorced twice) since the 1980s. He cofounded Protect Marriage Washington with Randall, and he's the one who filed the referendum.
IN HIS CLOSET: Kitsap County Superior Court records show that, in 1994, it was Stickney's wife who needed protecting. His then-wife Cheryl alleged that he "badly injured" her twice, breaking her eardrum and injuring her jaw so seriously she thought it was broken. She also alleged that after they separated, "He's come over several times when I wasn't home and stolen and destroyed things belonging to my son and myself." A superior court judge issued a restraining order against him. Stickney didn't return calls from The Stranger asking about these records, but on his website he contends that preventing gay people from marrying is necessary because "the happiness and well-being of both the parents and the children are best served by the family unit."
MATT SHEA, a 34-year-old Republican state representative from Spokane, who is a board member of Protect Marriage Washington, wasted no time introducing legislation in his first term early this winter: He sponsored a bill to ban Washington from recognizing same-sex marriages. "Like you, I am concerned that Washington could become a destination state for those who cohabitate without the benefit of marriage," Shea wrote in a letter to his constituents. His bill died without a hearing. Nonetheless, he plodded on. "I will oppose efforts in the legislature to dilute traditional marriage," he wrote.
IN HIS CLOSET: Wasn't it Shea's own traditional marriage that was, uh, diluted when he and his wife divorced 13 months earlier? Shea has hardly been a good steward of the institution. The Spokane County Clerk's Office identified 44 pleadings related to that divorce—among them, two temporary restraining orders and a protection order filed against him by ex-wife Lisa. Shea did not return calls from The Stranger, but the Spokesman-Review detailed some of the scandal last summer: "Matt T. Shea's wife, Lisa, was granted a divorce in January after complaining that he treated her 'as a possession,' and was physically and emotionally abusive. She said Shea insisted she walk on his left side because his sword, if he had one, would be on his right side. He said he knows nothing about that, but as a courtesy would walk between her and traffic. Lisa Shea's brother-in-law, Tino P. Vargas, swore in court documents that he saw Matt Shea yell at his wife, grab her arm 'very hard and violently,' and push her into a vehicle."