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Local Panelists Discuss Same-Sex Marriage Referendum 74 at Two “Issues That Matter” Forums


September 24, 2012

Marysville, Wash. — The public has the opportunity to listen to local panelists on the pros and cons of the hot topic of the state’s marriage laws at two upcoming “Issues That Matter” panel discussions before casting their votes on R-74. On the November ballot, voters will ratify or reject the referendum on Washington state's recent law legalizing same-sex marriage.

The first panel discussion will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m ., at the Edmonds Community College Black Box Theatre. The second panel discussion will be on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m ., at the Oak Harbor Library.

These “Issues That Matter” panel discussions are presented free to the public by Sno-Isle Libraries and funded by the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation to encourage community conversations on high-profile current issues and to enable area voters to be better informed about issues on the state ballot.

The featured panelists on Sept. 25 are:

Joseph Backholm, Chairman, Preserve Marriage Washington

Joseph Backholm is the chairman of the committee for Preserve Marriage Washington and Referendum 74. He is also the executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington. His job is to train leaders to be more effective public policy advocates, promote marriage, life, religious freedom, and parental rights in the state legislature, and help the public hold elected officials accountable for decisions they make.

Dr. Joe Fuiten, Pastor, Cedar Park Church

Joe Fuiten has served as pastor of Cedar Park Church in Bothell for the past 31 years. He is the founder of Cedar Park Counseling Network, Cedar Park Christian Asian Counseling service, and Cedar Park Christian Schools. He also served as state chairman for the presidential campaigns of John Ashcroft, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich as well as state chair for Social Conservatives for Bush-Cheney.

Judge Anne Levinson (retired), Washington United for Marriage

In 2006, Judge Levinson (ret.) led the Approve R-65 campaign to stop the attempted repeal of the state law against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2009, she led the Approve R-71 campaign, which resulted in Washington becoming the first state in the country to vote in favor of relationship recognition for LGBT families. She is currently advising the Approve R-74 Washington United for Marriage campaign.

State Rep. Marko Liias

Since January 2008, Representative Marko Liias has been serving in the Washington State House of Representatives representing the 21st legislative district. He spoke during the floor debate in support of SB 6239, which was subsequently signed into law on Feb. 9, 2012, legalizing same-sex marriage in our state. He received his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and completed graduate-level courses in public administration at the University of Washington.

The featured panelists on Sept. 27 are:

Joseph Backholm, Chairman, Preserve Marriage Washington

(see bio above)

Dr. Joe Fuiten, Pastor, Cedar Park Church

(see bio above)

Joshua Friedes, Spokesperson, Equal Rights Washington

Josh Friedes was the campaign manager of Washington Families Standing Together (WAFST), the coalition behind the successful campaign to Approve Washington Referendum 71 and secure full domestic partnership rights for Washington’s lesbian and gay couples. He is on the Governance Board of Washington United for Marriage, and is the spokesperson for Equal Rights Washington, the largest LGBT-rights organization in the state.

Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton, Trinity Episcopal Church

Reverend Taber-Hamilton has been a priest in the Diocese of Olympia (Western Washington) since 2003. She has served on the diocesan Anti-Racism Team and Ethnic Ministries Committee. She has also served as liaison from the diocese to state Governor Christine Gregoire’s Faith Advisory Council in the development of a state-wide disaster response plan that incorporates and activates the resources of faith communities.

The panels will be moderated by Dr. Marshall Goldberg, a retired physician, and a board member for both 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 in our society.

Audience members will have the opportunity to submit questions through the moderator. Come early; seating is limited. No tickets are required.

Sno-Isle Libraries and the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation are neutral on topics covered by “Issues That Matter” programs. The Library invites the public to learn more about different viewpoints on marriage and related issues by using the Libraries’ substantial physical, digital and virtual online resources, such as books, audio and ebooks, credible research databases, and websites which can be found through the Sno-Isle Libraries’ website at:

About Sno-Isle Libraries

Sno-Isle Libraries serves 671,000 residents in Snohomish and Island counties. Sno-Isle has community libraries in Arlington, Brier, Camano Island, Clinton, Coupeville, Darrington, Edmonds, Freeland, Granite Falls, Lake Stevens, Langley, Lynnwood, Marysville, Mill Creek, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo, Oak Harbor, Snohomish, Stanwood, and Sultan, as well as bookmobile stops in communities and at senior centers. Services and materials include more than 1.2 million items, reference services, electronic databases and computer equipment, Internet access, outreach programs for the homebound and local daycares, and story times for children. For more information on library services in your area, please call the Sno-Isle Libraries Service Center at 360-651-7000 or 1-877-SNO-ISLE (1-877-766-4753), or visit the website at


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