Initiative 957 was filed by the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance, which was formed last summer after the state Supreme Court upheld Washington's ban on same-sex marriage. In that 5-4 ruling, the court found that state lawmakers were justified in passing the 1998 Defense of Marriage Act, which restricts marriage to unions between a man and woman.
Under I-957, marriage would be limited to men and women who are able to have children. Couples would be required to prove they can have children to get a marriage license, and if they did not have children within three years, their marriages would be subject to annulment.
All other marriages would be defined as "unrecognized" and people in them would be ineligible to receive any marriage benefits.
"Absurd? Very," the group says on its Web site, which adds it is planning two more initiatives involving marriage and procreation. "But there is a rational basis for this absurdity. By floating the initiatives, we hope to prompt discussion about the many misguided assumptions" underlying the Supreme Court's ruling.
Gregory Gadow, who filed I-957 last month, said the three-year timeframe was arbitrary.
"We did toy with the idea of (requiring) procreation before marriage," he said. "We didn't want to piss off the fundamentalists too much."
Gadow said that if the group's initiatives were passed, the Supreme Court would be forced to strike them down as unconstitutional, which he believes would weaken the original ruling upholding the Defense of Marriage Act.
But he said he highly doubts any of the initiatives will pass, and that they are being done "in the spirit of political street theater."
"Our intention is not to actually put this into law," he said. "All we want is to get this on the ballot and cause people to talk about it."
The group's Web site gives another reason: "And at the very least, it should be good fun to see the social conservatives who have long screamed that marriage exists for the sole purpose of procreation be forced to choke on their own rhetoric."
Cheryl Haskins, executive director of Allies for Marriage & Children, agreed with Gadow's group on at least one point about the initiative: "It's absurd," she said.
Haskins said opponents of same-sex marriage "have never said that the sole purpose of marriage is procreation."