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Washington state warns Catholic bishop to stop fund-raising against gay marriage

Washington state law prevents organizations, including churches, from raising money from individuals to give to a political campaign. A Catholic bishop has been fund-raising in opposition of same-sex marriage.

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Gov. Chris Gregoire, (l.), is embraced by Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, after the House voted to legalize gay marriage in Washington state in Feb. 8, 2012, in Olympia, Wash. Now, the state government has ordered a Catholic Bishop to stop a fundraising campaign against gay marriage that violates the state's campaign finance rules.

Elaine Thompson/AP

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Washington state regulators have warned a Roman Catholic bishop that his diocese risks running afoul of state campaign finance laws if he follows through with a planned fund-raising effort opposing same-sex marriage on the November ballot.

State law prohibits organizations, including churches, from raising money from individuals to give to political campaigns, said Lori Anderson, a spokeswoman for the state's Public Disclosure Commission.

"It's not because it's a church. It's because it's not a stand-alone individual," Anderson said on Thursday.

The commission was calling into question a recent letter from Bishop Joseph Tyson to Yakima-area pastors urging them to distribute donation envelopes to parishioners during the weekend of Sept. 8-9.

The money would go to Preserve Marriage Washington, the campaign to defeat legalization of same-sex marriage on the state's November ballot.

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