Four Roman Catholic parishes in Seattle have said they will not aid in an effort to repeal the state's gay marriage law.

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo said last week in a letter to the faithful that the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle would help collect signatures for Referendum 74, arguing that denying marriage to gay and lesbian couples is not tantamount to discrimination.

“Treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman because of its unique ends, purpose and place in society. The word 'marriage' isn't simply a label that can be attached to different types of relationships.”

“Instead 'marriage' reflects a deep reality – the reality of the unique, fruitful, lifelong union that is only possible between a man and a woman. There is nothing else like it, and it can't be defined or made into something that it isn't,” Sartain wrote.

But at least four parishes are refusing to go along with the order, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

“Please be aware that Fr. [John D.] Whitney has decided that no petitions will be permitted anywhere on the campus of St. Joseph,” a terse notice on the website of St. Joseph Parish reads.

Fr. Michael Ryan, the pastor of St. James Cathedral, announced his decision on Wednesday.

“After discussing the matter with the members of the Cathedral's pastoral ministry team, I have decided that we will NOT participate in the collection of signatures in our parish,” Ryan wrote. “Doing so would, I believe, prove hurtful and seriously divisive in our community.”

St. Mary's Parish and Christ Our Hope Parish also have decided against backing the effort.

“After much prayer and reflection, I have decided we will not collect signatures at the parish,” Tricia Wittman-Todd, the pastoral life coordinator at St. Mary's, wrote in a letter to parishioners. “I am particularly concerned about our youth who may be questioning their own sexual identity and need our support at this time in their lives.”

Washington's gay marriage law was signed by Governor Chris Gregoire in February. Gay and lesbian couples may wed in the state starting on June 7. That is, provided opponents do not gather sufficient signatures to put Referendum 74 on the ballot, in which case marriage equality would be put on hold pending the outcome of a November election.

(Related: Washington Archbishop Peter Sartain testifies against gay marriage bill.)