Pastor Ken Hutcherson called a minute ago. The Antioch Bible Church pastor and gay marriage opponent says Town Hall (seating capacity 850) is not a large enough venue for the debate on January 18. Unless the event is moved from Town Hall to the Meydenbauer Convention Center in Bellevue, Hutcherson would cancel. That venue costs $10,000 and, Hutcherson said, we'd likely have to charge admission to cover the cost of the new venue. Hutcherson adds that Stephen Pidgeon, an attorney and the other anti-gay-marriage debater, is also pulling out due to concerns about the size of the venue.
Over 800 people already have tickets, Town Hall has booked the great hall, Dave Ross has agreed to moderate, and the Seattle Channel is planning to live-stream the debate—so even those without tickets will be able to watch and listen. Hutcherson and assistant Rachael Whaley were unequivocal last week that they were committed to participating at Town Hall. "Left you a message to say Steve Pidgeon is in," Whaley wrote in an email last Thursday afternoon. "So it will be Pidgeon and Hutcherson."
We can't move to a new location on such short notice.
So now we need to find replacements for Hutcherson and Pidgeon. Which isn't going to be easy: No one wants to argue the anti-side, it seems, and people working with state senators say none of them will participate. I got hard "no"s last week from the most outspoken anti-gay senators, Val Stevens and Dan Swecker.
We're putting out calls left and right—pastors, lawmakers, activists, everyone—trying to get someone willing to stand in front of an audience and explain why they believe two people of the same gender shouldn't get married. The event is going be moderated by KIRO's Dave Ross, so it'll be all fair and square.