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Same-sex marriage foes concede defeat

Spokane County vote on Referendum 74 after Wednesday's ballot count.

OLYMPIA — Opponents of Referendum 74, this afternoon conceded that they will lose the fight over same-sex marriage in Washington.

The latest vote count has Ref. 74 passing with about 52 percent of the vote, or a lead of about 84,000 ballots.

On Wednesday, supporters of the measure declared victory, saying their analysis of ballot returns convinced them there was no way it would fail.  A spokesman for Preserve Marriage Washington, the group mounting the opposition campaign said at that time they believed there was “a path to victory” in later ballot returns.

Today, however, Joseph Backholm, the group's chairman, said the ballots counted Wednesday afternoon and evening showed they were not closing the gap. Instead, the gap was growing.

“We are disappointed in losing a tough election battle on marriage by a narrow margin,” he said.

To view the latest statewide results on Ref. 74, click here.

Backholm blamed the loss on Washington being “a deep blue state and one of the  most secular in the nation” as well as the disparity between the two campaigns in terms of fundraising. He insisted it was not “a turning point” for the nation.

“It's not a turning point when you win on your home turf,” Backholm insisted in a prepared statement.

Washington was one of three states to approve same-sex marriage in Tuesday's election. Same-sex couples will be able to apply for marriage licenses on Dec. 6, the day election results are certified and approved ballot measures become law.

Under state law, couples must wait three days after they get their license to marry.

Mapping the vote: Spokane on same-sex marriage

Referendum 74, which would legalize same-sex marriage in Washington, is slightly ahead statewide, but trails in Spokane County

For the statewide map, click here

For a closer look at the Spokane vote, click on the PDF document below


Documents:

On the Web: HuffPo profiles state Rep. Walsh

Another example of Washington state politicians getting ink elsewhere: Huffington Post looks at state Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, noting her stance in support of gay rights and same-sex marriage.

Spin Control readers with good memories might recall a post with a video of her floor speech during the House debate over the bill behind what became Referendum 74.

Ref 74 gets $25,000 from Brad Pitt

The campaign to pass same-sex marriage in Washington state got a contribution Wednesday that is far from it's biggest, but may be from one of its most celebrated donors: Actor Brad Pitt.

And you thought he was busy making perfume commercials.

Pitt recently gave $100,000 to the Washington, D.C., based Human Rights Campaign, which divided that among the four states where same-sex marriage campaigns are being waged: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.

It's like one of those public radio pledge drive match arrangements. Pitt is promising to match contributions from other donors. HRC says he sent this message by e-mail: “If you're like me, you don't want to have to ask yourself on the day after the election, what else could I have done?”

Obama backs Ref. 74

OLYMPIA — President Obama gave a thumbs up to Referendum 74, the ballot measure in Washington that would legalize same-sex marriage, supporters said today.

Not a huge surprise, considering Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage earlier this year, a few months after the Legislature passed the law behind Ref. 74 and Gov. Chris Gregoire signed it. So it was generally known he favors the concept.

Thursday he went a step further. Obama campaign spokesman Paul Bell said the president doesn't weigh in on every state ballot measure, but will on this one: “Washington’s same-sex marriage law would treat all Washington couples equally, and that is why the President supports a vote to approve Referendum 74.”
  

Big money continues to roll in to campaigns

With just two weeks left for voters to return their general election ballots, large amounts of money are flowing into some Washington campaigns for top offices and measures that propose major changes to state law.

The state Democratic Party reported a $350,000 contribution Monday to its gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee, who a local poll suggests is tied with Republican Rob McKenna, and campaign disclosure records show is running behind in the money race. . .

A poll of 500 Washington voters conducted by 360 Strategies said McKenna and Inslee are each supported by 46 percent of those surveyed through the weekend. McKenna has raised about $12.1 million and Inslee about $10.6 milllion, although the Democratic former congressman’s totals don’t yet include Monday’s contribution from the state party, or a $93,000 contribution last week.

At this point in the campaign, state law requires candidates and donors to report any contribution of more than $1,000 as a “last-minute contribution” on a special form.  To see the latest update of the PDC last-minute contribution list, click here.

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, go inside the blog

Sunday spin: Times wades into McKenna, Ref. 74 campaigns

OLYMPIA – The biggest news in the state’s political campaigns last week probably was not made by a politician or group working for or against a ballot measure.

It was made by the Seattle Times Co., with a decision to run a full-page ad in support of Republican Rob McKenna’s gubernatorial bid, at no cost to the McKenna campaign.

The newspaper said it is paying out of its own coffers for McKenna ads and for others supporting the same-sex marriage measure, Referendum 74. It’s an effort, the great minds in the Times’ business offices say, to prove how effective newspaper advertising can be for a campaign.

To be clear, this is not merely a reprint, in giant type in case anyone might have missed them, of editorials the Times has already published endorsing McKenna and Referendum 74. These are ads with art and graphics and color that someone, or several someones, in the newspaper’s ad department conceived and labored over.

They go down in the Public Disclosure Commission’s books as independent expenditures: between now and Nov. 6, the company plans to spend $75,750 for McKenna and $75,000 to help get a yes vote on the ballot measure. Although the newspaper endorsed both on its editorial pages, the decision to run the ads was made without consultation or even advance notice to the news side of operation.

Not surprisingly, the Inslee campaign, the state Democratic Party to which he belongs and the group opposing same-sex marriage reacted negatively. So did some journalism organizations. More than 100 Times staff members signed a letter protesting the decision, saying it threatened to compromise the paper’s integrity by making it “part of the campaign machinery.”

Publisher Frank Blethen said the letter just proved that there was a separation between the business and editorial sides.

Maybe for Blethen, but probably not for much of the rest of the political world or the news-consuming public. The fact that newspapers endorse a candidate or an issue on their editorial pages, while common, nonetheless creates a problem for some voters. Even some candidates or campaign workers ask: How can a reporter be fair to us when his or her editors are supporting the opposition?

The quick answer: We don’t care about endorsements, and most of us don’t even read the editorial page during campaign season. I usually know who The Spokesman-Review has endorsed in a race I cover, because for 24 hours afterwards they’re treating me like their new best friend, and the other side isn’t returning my phone calls. After a while, both sides get over it.

If anyone asks about endorsements, I tell them two things: I don’t have input, let alone a vote, in the process, and an endorsement carries as much negative juju as positive juju. Depending on where you’re running in the Spokane area, it can be the kiss of death.

But the Times’ campaign takes this friction to a whole new level and seems bad on a couple levels. First, newspapers are struggling through declining staffs and shrinking news holes, so tossing around more than $150,000 is not chump change.

The other is, McKenna currently is behind in the polls. If he doesn’t win, what, if anything, does that say about the effectiveness of campaign ads in the Times?

Referendum 74 is an even bigger gamble. It’s slightly ahead in the polls, and if it wins there’s no way to measure the impact of the ads. If it goes down, the supporters of same-sex marriage are going to look for someone to blame. They might draw a bull’s-eye on the Times.

Gregoire video appears on anti Ref 74 blog

 

The National Organization for Marriage, which is opposing the ballot measure which would let Washington recognize same-sex marriage, posted a video on its blog that suggests President Obama was hiding his support for such unions for several months.

It's a clip of Gov. Chris Gregoire telling a group that when Obama visited Washington state in February right after she'd signed the bill that's behind Referendum 74, the president whispered in her ear to thank her for that and said “history will be on our side.”

Note the use of the first person plural.

It wasn't until May that Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, saying up until then only that his position was “evolving.” Gregoire's remarks suggest the evolution was complete months before, NOM contends, wondering if other politicians also were receiving “secret support” from the president to change marriage laws.

So where does this video come from?

Read the rest of this item inside the blog.

Update: Both sides of Ref. 74 campaign in Spokane Tuesday

Expect some action tomorrow for the forces for and against Referendum 74, the ballot measure to affirm the law allowing same-sex marriage in Washington.

The Family Policy Institute of Washington, which is opposing Ref. 74, has invited Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator and GOP presidential candidate, to speak at a luncheon at the DoubleTree Hotel at noon. Tickets are $36, and more info is available by calling 425-608-0242.

Update: Clergy members supporting Ref 74 will hold a “rally for love” in the nearby Convention Center Plaza, with the Rev. Happy Watkins as the keynote speaker, starting at 11:45 a.m.  The local pro-Ref 74 folks are planning a rally starting at 11:15 a.m. at the “grassy area in front of the DoubleTree.”

Meanwhile, Washington United for Marriage, the main campaign organization, is releasing a new ad to counter Santorum. It features state Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, who spoke passionately in favor of the bill when it was in front of the House earlier this year.

T-Mobile kicks in to Ref. 74 campaign

OLYMPIA — T-Mobile dialed in support of the ballot measure that would legalize same-sex marriage in Washington state.

The cellphone service is giving $25,000 to the main campaign to pass Referendum 74, Washington United for Marriage.

The company said in a press release it was part of “a long-standing focus on creating an inclusive workplace environment for our employees.”

It's a big donation, but not among the top 10 for the yes campaign, which has about $5.8 million with the T-Mobile money added in.

Preserve Marriage Washington, the primary no campaign, has slightly under $440,000.

Bishop: Vote Against Gay Marriage

Spokane’s Catholic bishop is urging members of his diocese to vote against the same-sex marriage law that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. In a letter to parishioners available at weekend services, the Rev. Blase Cupich, pictured, contends that if Referendum 74 passes, it will redefine marriage and create “a major shift in an institution that serves as the foundation stone of society.” He called same-sex marriage a passionate issue and called for respectful debate that would “generate light rather than heat.” Zach Silk, campaign manager for the pro-referendum group Washington United for Marriage, said Cupich’s letter comes as no surprise because the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops has a long-standing opposition to same-sex marriage. Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain urged Catholics in that archdiocese to sign the petitions to put Referendum 74 on the ballot, Silk noted/Jim Camden, SR. More here. (Photo: Catholic Diocese of Spokane)

Question: How much influence does a religious leader like Rev. Cupich have on controversial political issues like this?

Spokane bishop: Vote no on Ref. 74

Spokane’s Catholic bishop is urging members of his diocese to vote against the same-sex marriage law that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.
In a letter to parishioners available at weekend services, The Rev. Blase Cupich contends that if Referendum 74 passes, it will redefine marriage and create “a major shift in an institution that serves as the foundation stone of society.” He called same-sex marriage a passionate issue, and called for respectful debate that would “generate light rather than heat.”
Zach Silk, campaign manager for the pro-referendum group Washington United for Marriage, said Cupich’s letter comes as no surprise, because the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops has a long-standing opposition to same-sex marriage. Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartrain urged Catholics in that archdiocese to sign the petitions to put Ref. 74 on the ballot, Silk noted.
But lay Catholics don’t necessarily agree with their clergy on the issue, he said. . .

To read the rest of this item, go inside the blog.

Referendum signatures forged

OLYMPIA — State officials doing the check on petitions submitted for the same-sex marriage referendum say they found what they suspect are about 1,000 forged signatures. . .

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Counter protest greets Westboro group

Kittanya Locken and Marly Gilbert share a kiss in front of the anti-gay protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church.

OLYMPIA — A half dozen members of the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church drew about 200 counter demonstrators to a protest at the entrance to the state Capitol Campus this afternoon.

The Kansas congregation said on its website it was “picketing the legalization of fag marriage” in the state Wednesday and Thursday. They apparently didn't get the memo that the law is on  hold, at least until December, because Preserve Marriage Washington filed more than 225,000 signatures on referendum petitions to put the law on the ballot.

Since Preserve Marriage Washington only needed about 121,000 valid signatures, there's almost no chance that the law won't be before voters in November. The secretary of state's office will go through a streamlined process to check signatures next week.

While the Westboro group sang, waved their signs and, for part of the protest stood on an American flag one protester had dropped on the ground, the counter demonstrators jeered, shouted and waved signs spoofing the standard Westboro “God hates Fags” signs.

“God hates figs,” said one. “Eggs hate Nogg,” said another.

Other counter demonstrators blew bubbles, waved flags or served pieces of a cake decorated with a rainbow.

Washington State troopers kept the two groups separate. But Kittanya Locken and Marly Gilbert, a lesbian couple who live in Olympia, made their way to the front of the counter demonstrators to share a kiss in front of the Westboro group.

Locken said they learned about the protest on Facebook, and decided they had to come to protest the protesters. “It's our home and our duty to support our friends.”

Austin Hedrick, a high school senior from Tumwater, said he came hoping to talk to the Westboro protesters, but the crowd made that unlikely. Hedrick was carrying his Bible and said he plans to attend a seminary in the fall. He wanted to tell the protesters they were wrong about their interpretation of the Scripture.

“The Bible says homosexuality is wrong, but it doesn't say to hate homosexuals,” Hedrick said.

Katrina Akins of Olympia, who was blowing bubbles in the back of the crowd, said she'd recently seen a movie about the Westboro Church, and wanted to see them  in person. “They're about what I expected,” she said.

Why bubbles? They're fun, they make rainbows…and the bubble blower was cheap at the dollar store, she said.

After an hour, the Westboro protesters packed up and left, and the counter demonstrators slowly dispersed.

Ref. 74 petitions have 200k signatures

OLYMPIA — Supporters of a referendum to overturn the state's same-sex marriage law will turn in some 200,000 signatures on Wednesday morning.

The secretary of state's office said Preserve Marriage Washington is scheduled to turn in signatures at 10 a.m., and the group's website says it has more than 200,000 signatures, which is approaching twice the 120,000 needed to qualify for the November ballot.

State officials recommend petition circulators file at least 150,000 signatures to account for the expected rejection rate of about 18 percent. But Referendum 74 supporters are far beyond that, according to their website.

The state will begin checking a sample of the petitions early next week, and should have it certified by midweek.

Meanwhile, Washington United for Marriage, supporters of the law and opponents of Ref. 74, said they are beginning a phone campaign tonight to ask voters to vote yes on the ballot measure to retain the law.

No, thanks, we’re a family

At 8:30 this morning I opened the Tacoma paper to read a story about Referendum-74 which seeks to repeal the Marriage Equality Act by putting it on the November ballot. Signatures are needed to put the recently passed legislation to the people’s vote.  

Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain has requested that parishes – all 180 of them in Western Washington – offer parishioners an opportunity to sign petitions in support of R-74. Some pastors are just saying “no,” to the archbishop’s request, including the priests at my parish.  

Our pastor consulted the parish staff and our elected parish council, who say they believe the presence of petitions would alienate some of our same-sex families. And as involved in social justice issues as we are at my church, I have never seen a petition for anything.  

At 10:30 I slid into my pew – next to two men, who are domestic partners. They sang and greeted me with handshakes at the sign of peace and we joined hands as we sang our way through the Our Father (Lord’s Prayer) right before we broke bread together.  

Dozens of teens were confirmed into the Catholic faith today at that Mass. They joined a church that claims to be universal (that is what “catholic” means). My parish doesn’t tell us who to love, when I worship there, I hear only how to love better. And today I read about that parish love in the paper. And so did all our same-sex families who worship with me.

(S-R archives photo)

Referendum number is up, by 1

OLYMPIA — The proposed ballot measure asking voters whether they support or oppose the same-sex marriage bill is Referendum 74, the Secretary of State's office said today.

The proposal had been given the number 73 yesterday, when opponents of the law filed for a referendum a few hours after Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the bill. Turns out, however, that 73 was given last year to a proposed challenge of the medical marijuana law. That effort didn't make it to the ballot, but the Secretary of State's office doesn't recycle numbers from unsuccessful petition drives.

Processing the referendum proposal now requires the Attorney General's office to write the ballot title, description and summary. Under the law, that can't take more than five days. The title, description or summary can be challenged, which would result in an expedited hearing in Thurston County Superior Court.

The printing of petitions and signature gathering would likely begin in early March, state elections officials said. Opponents of the law have until June 6 to gather 120,577 valid signatures from registered voters. If they don't, the law takes effect June 7.

If they do, the law is on hold until the November election, and only takes effect in early December if it passes. If it fails, it never takes effect.