No sooner had Governor Chris Gregoire signed the law making Washington the seventh state to permit civil marriage for same-sex couples than a referendum was filed by a group called Preserve Marriage Washington.
Preserve Marriage Washington is an amalgam of local groups Family Policy Institute of Washington, Stand for Marriage Washington and Concerned Women for America, composed of local actors with a long history of opposing LGBT equality. And they haven’t wasted a moment in bringing in national right-wing groups whose agendas are not at all in step with Washington voters in their attempt to repeal the civil marriage equality law. The first hired guns to surface are attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) who are leading their referendum ballot title challenge.
ADF bills itself as “a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith [with a] combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.”
The lawyers ADF is sending onto Washington state have long histories of representing some of the most radical-right politicians and causes across the country. Here’s just a glimpse into their portfolios.
Among her various clients, Mitchell has represented Tom Delay, Tea Party candidates Sharon Angle in Nevada, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, Joe Miller in Alaska, Sen. Jim DeMint in South Carolina; the National Rifle Association and the Republican National Committee. She has pushed for photo I.D. laws.
Mitchell currently represents National Organization for Marriage, the leading national organization opposed to permitting civil marriage for same-sex couples, in its efforts in Minnesota to fight campaign finance limits and campaign donor disclosure laws.
Mitchell led an attempt to repeal civil marriage for same-sex couples in Washington, D.C. and “staged a walkout of board members at the Conservative Political Action Conference in D.C. in protest of CPAC’s decision to allow GOProud, a group of conservative LGBT activists, to attend the event,” according to Minnesota Independent.
Brian Raum and Austin Nimocks
Brian Raum and Austin Nimocks are both senior legal counsel at ADF, traveling state to state in an effort to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying. Raum leads ADF’s marriage litigation team of which Nimocks is a member. In the course of this work, both men have made some hyperbolic statements.
Raum, one of the attorneys defending California’s Proposition 8, said in response to the Circuit Court ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional that “Marriage is too valuable to be redefined by two San Francisco judges in a case funded by Hollywood millionaires.”
Of the Prop 8 plaintiffs themselves Raum claimed that they “want to redefine marriage” and “have focused unabashedly on a systematic attack of orthodox religious beliefs”.
Nimocks alleges that “the full weight of the government will seek out and victimize” those who oppose civil marriage for same-sex couples in Washington.
Already in their court brief challenging the referendum ballot title language, Mitchell, Raum and Nimocks are making the same claim they make in every other state that permitting same-sex couples in Washington to obtain civil marriage licenses will somehow infringe on the constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech of those who oppose civil marriage for same-sex couples. The briefs read like a carbon copy of the old arguments and rhetoric they try in every court.
The far-right viewpoints, relentless efforts to strip away the rights of others, trying to hide campaign donors and outrageous statements made by Mitchell, Raum and Nimocks are hardly reflective of the sort of moderate views and respectful debate that Washington’s fair-minded voters appreciate. Hopefully the influx of these ADF attorneys into the state is not a sign of the sort of campaign that Preserve Marriage Washington plans to run. If so, it will not be well received by the voters of Washington.