Churches in Washington have been reminded that they are not to act as intermediaries by taking donations for political causes, including groups attempting to overturn the legalisation of equal marriage in the state.

Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission learned that Roman Catholic Bishop, Joseph Tyson, of Yakima, sent letters to 41 parishes asking them to support Preserve Marriage Washington, a group attempting to reverse the legalisation of equal marriage, by taking collections on their behalf.

The commission issued a precautionary reminder, but no formal complaint was lodged.

Lori Anderson, communication and training officer for the commission, said that it is not permitted for any organisation, including religious ones, to take on donations on behalf of this type of campaign, whereas they can encourage people to support the cause.

Anderson told the Washington Post: “Churches can distribute the envelopes and encourage parishioners to use them, but they can’t be the middleman.”

In short, the envelopes have to be mailed back by the donor, or they can be collected by a volunteer from PMW.

Preserve Marriage Washington commented to say that there was no issue as they had done nothing outside the constraints of the law, as they did not solicit any help from a third party.

In February, Washington’s House of Representatives passed a bill to introducing gay marriage to the state, by 55 votes to 43.

Governor Chris Gregoire, a Democrat and a Roman Catholic, signed into law the new marriage legislation, describing it as “one of her proudest moments”.

A decision will be made during a referendum on November 6. A poll recently suggested that voters in the state might approve the measure during the presidential elections.