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Gingrich says Wash. doing gay marriage right

OLYMPIA – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he thinks allowing same-sex couples to marry is wrong, but the path Washington is taking to change its law is right.

Voters, rather than the courts, should have a chance to decide the issue, Gingrich said Friday. The Legislature passed, and Gov. Chris Gregoire signed, a bill to allow same-sex marriage but opponents have filed a referendum that would delay the law and block it if they gather enough signatures by June 6.

“I don’t agree with it. If I were voting, I’d vote no,” Gingrich said during a break in meetings with Republican legislators Friday morning. “But at least they’re doing it the right way.”

During a later news conference, the Republican presidential candidate said he’s changed his mind on medical marijuana and no longer supports efforts to have the federal government reclassify the drug so it could be prescribed for certain conditions. He did support such reclassification in the 1980s, but “I was convinced by parents who didn’t want any suggestion made to their children that drugs were appropriate.”

States don’t have the right to pass medical marijuana laws and then allow some sort of distribution system to be set up, he added. “I think the federal government has been very clear… that federal law trumps state law.”

Gingrich is in Washington trying to generate support for the March 3 precinct caucuses, which will feature a straw poll as well as start the process to select delegates for the Republican National Convention. He wouldn’t predict how he would do next Saturday, except that he planned to get “our share of the votes.”

“Enough to get delegates. Enough so people see I’m genuinely competitive,” he said, adding he’s trying to accomplish that by making the case he’s the best opponent to President Barack Obama based on his economic policies, energy policies and experience making major changes in Washington, D.C.

He also hopes to do well enough to get some momentum for the following Tuesday, when 10 states including Idaho have caucuses or primaries.

Gingrich met with Republicans in the state House of Representatives and state Senate, and posed for photos with supporters and excited pages. He later made a stop at one of the Capitol Campus press buildings, known as the White House. Before he answered media questions, though, he wanted to ask one of his own. Why was it called the White House? Unlike the building in Washington, D.C., to which he aspires, it’s not named for the color it’s painted. It’s named for longtime Associated Press reporter John White.

Gingrich also had high praise for the location of his Spokane rally, the Bing Crosby Theater: “It’s a great venue.”