This article has been changed from its original version to reflect new information from the Secretary of State’s Office. A person may file a referendum after a bill has passed both the house and senate—not after the governor signs it, as the Secretary of State had previously told The Stranger.
Former televangelist Gary Randall says his group, Faith and Freedom, will file a referendum to repeal the Washington State domestic-partnership bill that would provide all the state-granted rights of marriage to same-sex couples. But Randall's campaign is unraveling fast.
Randall owes tens of thousands of dollars to federal and state governments. While filtering through decades of records in late April, the Clackamas County Clerk's office found that Randall—a resident of West Linn, Oregon—owes $36,012 in unpaid federal back taxes. The IRS filed two tax liens against him in 1990 and another in 2008, when he earned $82,429 from the Faith and Freedom Foundation, Faith and Freedom's tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit. He also owes the Oregon Department of Revenue $2,479.04 for a tax debt from 1991.
Asked to explain the glut of unpaid taxes, Randall hung up the phone.
Randall is a carpetbagger, too. Although he claims he has a home in Issaquah, the King County Assessor's office found no properties owned by Gary Randall or his wife, Marjorie Randall, in or near Issaquah. If Randall has a home anywhere in King County, he rents it.
Nor is Randall registered to vote in this state. The Washington Secretary of State's office found no records of Randall voting in Washington, but Oregon records show Randall registered since 1982. Thus, under Washington State law, Randall cannot personally file a referendum here and wouldn't even be allowed to sign the petition or vote on the measure.
Randall is running out of time to gather signatures for and file his referendum&mdash. Under state law, Randall and his cohorts have until July 25 to gather 120,577 voter signatures. However, no referendum has yet been filed.
And gathering that many signatures costs money—money the Faith and Freedom PAC, with just $20 in the bank, doesn't have. Another group entirely—such as the conservative Washington Values Alliance, which opposed the domestic-partnership bill—might need to file the referendum.
The second challenge would be passing the measure. "If I didn't believe it would pass, I wouldn't put the work into it," Randall said last week. But according to an Elway Research poll commissioned by Randall and released April 28, 43 percent of voters said they supported marriage between same-sex couples—up eight points from another poll Randall commissioned from Elway in 2005. That trend is the opposite of what Randall wants. A third poll by the University of Washington indicates a referendum to repeal domestic partnerships would fail: Sixty-six percent of state voters support either full marriage equality or all the rights of marriage for same-sex couples.
"You have to take any threat seriously, but I think [the referendum] is more of a fundraising ploy" for Faith and Freedom, says state senator Ed Murray (D-43), sponsor of the domestic-partnership bill in the senate. "People who sincerely believe this stuff and don't have a lot of financial means are being taken advantage of because they are politically unsophisticated."