Talk about same-sex marriage referendum at forums

The pros and cons of the state’s same-sex marriage law will be debated by panelists at forums in Edmonds and Oak Harbor planned next week by Sno-Isle Libraries.

Voters in the state will decide in the Nov. 6 general election whether to allow gay marriage under Referendum 74. As part of its “Issues that Matter,” the library system is hosting the forums to better educate voters.

People are invited to attend the forums, which are free and paid for by the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation.

Referendum 74 asks voters whether they want to approve or reject the law signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire in February allowing same-sex couples to marry. If it is approved, the law will take effect once the final vote is certified.

The first forum is planned from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Black Box Theatre at Edmonds Community College, 20000 68th Ave W, Lynnwood. The panelists who are scheduled to speak against gay marriage will be Joseph Backholm, chairman of Preserve Marriage Washington, and Joe Fuiten, pastor of Cedar Park Church in Bothell. Those speaking in favor are retired Judge Anne Levinson of Washington United for Marriage and state Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds.

The second event is scheduled from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Oak Harbor Library, 1000 SE Regatta Drive, Oak Harbor in Meeting Room HH137. Backholm and Fuiten plan to attend this forum. Joshua Friedes, spokesman for Equal Rights Washington, and the Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton of Trinity Episcopal Church are the other panelists.

Both events are to be moderated by Dr. Marshall Goldberg, a retired physician and a board member of the Oak Harbor Sno-Isle Library and the League of Women Voters of Whidbey Island. He promotes civil discourse as a way to further authentic democracy.

Audience members will have the opportunity to submit questions through the moderator.

People are encouraged to arrive early as seating is limited.

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