ON THE REJECTION OF ATHEIST ENDORSEMENTS BY WASHINGTON UNITED FOR MARRIAGE
On July 13, 2012, the producers, cast and crew of the Tacoma-based “Ask an Atheist” radio show hosted a 24-hour telethon fundraiser for same-sex marriage equality in Washington State.
Prior to the telethon, we had assurances from Washington United for Marriage that our donations would be gladly accepted, that our endorsement of their campaign would not be rejected or suppressed, and that our show’s logo could join the collage of organizations, companies and faith groups supporting their effort on their website.
We took the campaign at their word, and Washington United for Marriage lied to us.
After weeks of deflection and multiple requests from the campaign that we re-submit our logo and endorsement application – and a week after our telethon – we finally got an explanation in a phone call from Washington United for Marriage’s Outreach Coordinator, Dustin Lambro. Lambro made it clear to us that the campaign would not include our show’s logo among its other endorsers for precisely the reason we had feared.
Dustin Lambro felt that his campaign—a campaign that prides itself on tolerance and diversity—could not risk any negative publicity that may come from association with an atheist organization.
For the past two months, we have tried to negotiate with the campaign directly and through their allies in Equal Rights Washington, an organization we are happy to say has no reservations about allowing us the same recognition as other allied supporters of LGBT rights.
What we have found most shocking about all of this is that it was not that long ago that the LGBT community stood exactly where we stand now. Fewer than ten years ago, they were being lectured by men with titles and suits that associating with the gay community openly would be too dangerous, and that it was safer for the sake of his campaign to accommodate the bigotry of the electorate.
We are not asking Dustin Lambro or Washington United for Marriage to agree with our opinions regarding religion or the existence of gods, and we are not asking our supporters to vote against marriage equality.
We are asking that the campaign openly acknowledge that we support their goals. We are asking for the same treatment that Lambro has given every Christian group, Jewish group, bakery, restaurant, dog groomer, software giant and coffee bar that has taken the same position in favor of equal rights. We are asking that the campaign be truly united for marriage.
Finally, we want to assert that our commitment to marriage equality has not wavered in spite of the hurtful way we have been treated. Religious dogma has no place in determining civil rights and secular laws. We look forward with great hope that the campaign reverses course and accepts our endorsement.
For those who donated time and money to WU4M through the Ask an Atheist fundraiser, we urge you to contact the campaign and request your donation be returned unless and until this poor decision is reversed.
For other freethought groups, we urge you to contact WU4M and register your anger that a vibrant and sizable segment of Washington citizenry has been told their existence as campaign endorsers is a liability.
And finally for other endorsers of WU4M’s Approve Ref. 74 campaign, we urge you to contact them and encourage them to allow us to stand beside you and all other businesses, faith groups, and community organizations in supporting marriage equality.
UPDATE: WASHINGTON UNITED NOW INCLUDES THE ASK AN ATHEIST LOGO ON THEIR COALITION PAGE, SEE THE DETAILS HERE.