Joseph Backholm: Director, Family Policy Institute of Washington
Joseph Backholm is in the fight of his life. But he’s not fighting alone.
As director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW), coordinating grassroots efforts and lobbying for life, marriage, and religious freedom at the state capital, he’s facing a legislature that has aggressively embraced the homosexual legal agenda, and recently passed a law redefining marriage. But he has a dependable ally in Alliance Defending Freedom.
“It’s basically like having in-house counsel, people who are friends but also very good lawyers,” he says. “It gives an organization like mine, that’s small and growing and doesn’t have the resources to have a real legal staff, access to resources far beyond what our size would indicate.”
Backholm, a 2003 graduate of the Blackstone Legal Fellowship, is drawing on all of his Alliance Defending Freedom resources and contacts to generate a strong response to the legislature’s new marriage law. His team has worked hard to get a referendum on that law onto the November ballot, created “Preserve Marriage Washington” to galvanize a broad cross-section of support for the initiative, and he’s confronted churches bluntly with their responsibility for what’s happened.
“People who knew better just did nothing,” he says. “We’ve been terrified of being identified as political, or as someone who’s mean.” Those threats, he says, have neutralized people who have the ability to do something. “We allowed this movement to gain strength, and momentum, and political influence within the legislature … and never held legislators accountable for decisions they made along the way. The churches were not engaged in any way in trying to stop this.” Thankfully, he says, that’s changing.
“Fifteen-hundred churches agreed to participate in the signature collection drive (for the marriage referendum),” Backholm says. “We needed 120,000 valid signatures and we had about a quarter of a million – an all-time record for referendum signatures in Washington state. People are awakening.” That, and the support of Alliance Defending Freedom, may decide the issue.
“The resources are just critical – it gives me hope that our movement is going to be successful in the long run,” he says. “There are really good people working on this, and it’s growing.”