Dominic Holden over at The Stranger‘s SLOG has it right.  He’s calling today’s anti-equality rally in Olympia a Last Gasp.  The rally was organized specifically to show opposition to the Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill of 2009.  The bill has already passed in the Senate, and has enough co-sponsors in the House to all but assure passage.  And the governor is eager to sign.

Holden quotes Senator Ed Murray, co-author of the bill

I think the rally is probably more of an attempt by certain organizations to find a reason for being, to fill their own coffers and keep their own organization going.  They are down in polls and down in the legislature. It is not a happy time for them.

Josh Friedes, Advocacy Director for Equal Rights Washington, adds a more sobering note.

“What they are trying to say is if you vote for this bill we will try to get you in November and look how strong we are,” says Friedes. “I don’t think they have that kind of strength to affect candidate election outcomes.” But, he notes, anti-gay-marriage sentiment may be strong enough to pass an initiative or referendum banning gay marriage.

UPDATE:  Josh, who I’ve known for many years back from his days at the Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts and MassEquality, e-mailed me to elaborate on his statements, saying:

The public is not yet fully comfortable with the idea of marriage equality but the conversation around the domestic partnership bill has helped voters and legislators understand why anything less than marriage is less than equal. The good news is that public polls done by the University of Washington show that there is very strong public support for the contents of the domestic partnership bill and growing support for marriage equality. So we need time to build public support for marriage equality in Washington state. We will move a marriage equality bill when we can win a referendum. While we do this important work, LGBT families in Washington will have the  protections afforded by the the domestic partnership law.

Some personal observations of the day after the flip.  But first, please, DONATE a few bucks to Equal Rights Washington.  They are the organization standing between us and The Washington Hate Coalition.  Like most non-profits, they have had to lay off an employee due to major budget cuts.  We need them.  Please give.

Related Posts:

*Washington’s Equality Lobby Day 2009

*Rivalry Among the Washington State Haters?

*Ken Hutcherson & Sidekick Give Limp Performance on KING5′s “Up Front”

Something I found interesting today was that although several speakers mentioned a referendum to repeal the DP Expansion Bill should it pass, the references were quite vague.  As if it’s a threat but not (yet) a promise.  This further supports my earlier conclusion that The Washington Hate Coalition is disorganized and disheartened.  And maybe after the Prop 8 blowout, a little bit poor?  Not that they are not able to get it together to stage a successful referendum, but right now they are too internally disorganized to even put up a cohesive front.

On Gary Randall’s pre-rally promise “We will be announcing our next step in the defense of marriage.”, Grade: F

A few things about the crowd were noticeable right off the bat.  First, this was a White crowd.  Besides Ken Hutcherson (what hatefest would be complete without him?), I spotted only one other p.o.c. in the 400 or so present.  No Latinos.  No Asians.  No First Nations.
The second thing I noticed were the Slavic languages being spoken by many in the crowd.  When I asked a group of kids if they were all from the same school, they responded that no, they were all from various “Slavic churches”.  
Larry Stickney (red tie) was master of ceremonies.  The opening and closing prayers credited on the program were given by native-born men.  However the other man in this picture, who was left off the program and who Stickney simply referred to as “the Savic minister”, also was invited to give prayers in his mother tongue.  His followers didn’t bow their heads in prayer, but rather raised their palms and faces skywards, and mumble-chanted Pentecostal style.
Then the parade of theocrats, legislators, and theocratic legislators began. Ron Boehme set the stage for some internecine tension by suggesting that gays be loved, not hated.  That seemed to go over well with the crowd until…
Ken Hutcherson got up and told us that gays were the enemy, and why would we worry about loving them?  He asked why we strive to “love the sinner but hate the sin”.  After all, Jesus never said that, Gandhi did.  WTF are we doing following that lousy man of peace and not Jee-zuss?  The Sheepledom baaa’d its approval of the latest herd-dog’s yap.  That dyspeptic look on Gary Randall’s face (white bald guy) is priceless.
Organizers asked people to sign pre-fab letters to their legislators and to the governor, then hand-deliver them after the rally.  But they provided zero lobbying training and the rally went way over time, so there was a mass exodus afterward and few people actually paid a visit to their legislators.  Most simply dumped their letters in this box, for later delivery by someone who might actually give a damn.
Cold and bored.
These people had seats of honor directly behind the podium, but I never found out who they were.  They never moved, changed their expressions or responded to the speakers the entire time.
Happy hater.
Thought balloon:  ”I thought it would be better than math class…
Future therapy patient.
Which sort of marriage were you hoping to preserve, m’dear?  Let’s see, in the Bible we have plural marriages, plural marriages + concubines, forced marriage to the brother of your dead husband should you be childless upon his death,…
Which of these young men will later admit to trying to hide their homosexuality by challenging these counter-protesters?  I felt so bad for all concerned in that little knot of angry people.