While Tim Eyman this week was flooding local media with press releases touting an inane new initiative (but not touting the State Supreme Court’s thrashing of his I-776 appeal), a far more dangerous ideologue was filing an initiative of his own.
Rev. Ken Hutcherson, of the Eastside evangelical powerhouse Antioch Bible Church, has three things that Eyman no longer has: money, followers, and (at least in some circles) credibility. In the wake of Eyman’s bungling this year of a slam-dunk initiative to overturn Washington’s new gay civil rights law, Hutcherson and other evangelical leaders promised such an initiative — which Eyman essentially stole from them — would be back.
Now it is.
Hutcherson quietly filed exactly such an initiative late last week, a fact only reported yesterday. Maybe that’s because the initiative is purely symbolic and is going nowhere. Hutcherson would need to gather 225,000 signatures by the end of December. The state has not even reviewed the initiative’s language yet or given it a title and number, essential steps before Hutcherson can even start gathering signatures. It really would take an act of someone’s God for this initiative to qualify for next year’s ballot.
Except that by refiling the identical initiative on Jan. 2, with the initiative language already approved, Hutcherson gets a few extra days in 2007 to gather signatures, and four extra weeks this month to organize his anti-fag army. Hutcherson is many things, but stupid is not one of them.
He will be a far more formidable opponent than Eyman, who, contrary to the preenings of the coalition optimistically self-named “Washington Won’t Discriminate” (Really? Asked any farmworkers lately? Or Afirican-Americans with a family member shot by SPD?), was stopped by Eyman’s own incompetence, not by any liberal opposition. It will take far more than a smug (and white) group of Seattle libs launching a web site and handing out flyers to derail Hutcherson. It will take money — a lot of it. It will take a prolonged statewide media campaign featuring a bipartisan roster of Washington’s political, business, and cultural leaders. And it will take serious outreach into Hutcherson’s religious base of support, speaking with pastors, other religious leaders, and their congregations about, for example, Jesus’ teachings on discrimination, forgiveness, and the judging of others. There’s a lot more of that in the Bible than there is gay-bashing.
Or perhaps we should launch an initiative banning cotton/polyester fabrics, on both religious (Leviticus) and purely aesthetic grounds. Both are just about as improbably random, Biblically speaking, as the demented fundamentalist Christian fixation with same-sex couples.