Washington state legislators send a Valentine to gay and lesbian families

What better day to unveil a marriage equality bill (SB 5793) than Valentine’s Day?

OLYMPIA – Lawmakers have chosen today – the day that millions across the country celebrate the bonds of affection shared between two people in love – as the day to introduce major legislation that would no longer restrict gays and lesbians from their right to marry.

Today is not the first time the issue of marriage equality for gays and lesbians and the Valentine’s Day holiday have crossed paths.

In early February of 1998, in what has proven to be the darkest of Valentine’s for gay and lesbian families in our state, the Legislature enshrined discrimination as the law of the land in Washington by overriding the veto of then-Gov. Gary Locke to approve the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act.”

This Valentine’s Day, Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, and Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said the night is darkest just before the dawn.

“Over the past several years, the Legislature and the public together have been steadily building a bridge to equality for gay and lesbian families,” said Moeller. He noted the passage of civil rights legislation in 2006 protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in employment, housing, and financial transactions, and then three successive years of securing broader and broader domestic partnership rights — which included successfully withstanding a hostile referendum challenge at the ballot in 2009.

“We’ve made tremendous progress since 1998,” Murray said. “Gay and lesbian families in Washington now enjoy the same state spousal rights that their married straight friends enjoy – except for the name ‘marriage’. The recognition that their loving, lifelong commitment is no different from the loving, lifelong commitment of straight couples is the final step to achieving full equality. I believe the Legislature and the public are both ready to take that final step.”

Please sign the Marriage Equality petition today and ask friends to do the same.
The pro-equality vote in Washington state has been rising steadily for the past five years.  With a concerted effort, we can put the numbers over the top in 2012.  Recall that in 2009 the Washington electorate was the first in the nation to ratify a same-sex relationship recognition law at the polls, 52.6% to 27.4%.

As Equal Rights Washington reminds us, “The most important thing you can do in support of marriage equality is to talk to your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers about why marriage equality matters to you and people you love. Nothing is more powerful than personal stories.  So let’s keep the conversation going.”

Another way to “get engaged” and help make marriage equality a reality in Washington state by participating in the Equality Day 2011 in Olympia on March 22, 2011.

Equality Day 2011 is your opportunity to engage with your legislators in person. On March 22 you can educate your legislators about your lives. Tell them how the decisions they make help you contribute fully as a member of the community, promote your freedom to love who you love, and live healthy productive lives.  We have many opportunities this year to support our families by creating protections for children and parents in the Uniform Parentage Act, creating a safe and supportive educational environment for our students, promoting awareness of HIV/AIDS and good public health, and making progress toward marriage equality.

Your legislators have their hands on the levers of power, but they need your help to know which way to pull them.

Help Spread the Word! Print and Post an Equality Day 2011 flyer on bulletin boards inside LGBT friendly establishments in your community.

Click here for more information on Equality Day 2011.
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—  David Taffet

George Washington University Adds Gender-Neutral Housing Option

Last week, George Washington University approved a student proposal to allow students to choose roommates they feel most comfortable with and get along with the best – regardless of gender. Gender-neutral housing, as it is commonly called, will be available to all students in all but the three female-only dorms on its campus starting next fall.

GWU joins around 50 other colleges and universities across the country with similar expanded housing options, but is somewhat unique in terms of the expansiveness of its new policy. For example, Princeton University’s pilot of the option began this fall, but was limited to upperclass undergraduates in apartment-style dorms. Similarly, Columbia University restricted its new policy to sophomore, junior and senior students. GWU should be commended for its leadership in ensuring all of its students are able to feel comfortable in their living situations.

As a GWU alumnus, I had the opportunity to discuss my personal experience with the review committee evaluating the proposal. Like many queer students, I finally came out to my friends and family while at college. It was definitely a process though, and while at school students should be focused on learning, not worried about potential harassment or feel forced to hide their sexuality or gender identity from their roommates.

Schools with gender-neutral housing policies typically report that the percentage of students who take advantage of them is low and these policies serve as a sign of the campus’ commitment to being welcoming and inclusive. These are the type of indicators high school seniors look to when trying to figure out which school is right for them. I’m proud that since my graduation, my alma mater has continued its efforts to support LGBT students by opening a resource center, adding gender identity to its non-discrimination policy, starting an LGBT studies minor and now offering gender-neutral housing.

Of course, none of these changes would have happened without the tireless advocacy by students, faculty and staff who recognized the importance of these changes. Check out HRC’s youth and campus outreach program to learn more about campus activism, whether you want to form an LGBT student group or trade tips with students at campuses across the county.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Pro-equality Republicans get re-elected in Washington state

Rep. Maureen Walsh
Rep. Norm Johnson

Rep. Maureen Walsh (R-Walla Walla) and Rep. Norm Johnson (R-Yakima) were heavily criticized by some in their own party for their votes last year in support of the Domestic Partnership Expansion Law of 2009 (SB 5866 & HB 1727).  Yet despite the best efforts of anti-gay activists in the GOP and tea party, both pro-equality Republican incumbents were re-elected to the Washington state legislature.

In response to Walsh’s 2009 vote for the domestic partnership bill, the Franklin Co. Republicans censured her, saying “Representative Maureen Walsh does not represent the values of the Franklin County Republican Party.”  But voters sent a strong message that it was the Franklin Co. Republicans who didn’t represent their values, re-electing Rep. Walsh by a landslide, 77.6% to 22.4%.  The censure had been penned by Brenda High, who would become Rep. Walsh’s rival in the election.

Rep. Johnson faced similar criticism for his pro-equality vote.  His Republican challenger Michele Strobel stated as much when she announced her candidacy, saying “It was a slap in the face to Christians.  It was a slap in the face to traditional values.”  Although Strobel kept Rep. Johnson’s pro-equality vote in the news and even targeted him with a nasty anti-gay newspaper ad, Rep. Johnson won handily 52.5% to 47.5%.

Voter turnout for this election was 71.18%, the highest for a mid-term election in Washington since 1970.  Nobody can claim that the people in Rep. Walsh’s and Rep. Johnson’s districts haven’t spoken.

The odds of Walsh and Johnson getting re-elected must have looked long to their challengers.  After all, their legislative districts are both solidly Republican, with Republicans holding all seats in the state legislature and U.S. House of Representatives.  In addition, over 60% of voters in both districts bucked the statewide trend and rejected Referendum 71, the 2009 ballot measure asking voters to approve or reject the domestic partnership law that Walsh and Johnson had voted for.  Indeed, both Walsh’s and Johnson’s challengers used those statistics to imply that they were more in-tune with the local electorate than were Walsh and Johnson.  So what happened?
I asked Josh Friedes, Executive Director of Equal Rights Washington why Rep. Walsh and Rep. Johnson were so successful in getting reelected.


I think these election results demonstrate conclusively that when incumbents take principled positions in support of LGBT civil rights, voters will return these candidates to office.

In the 2010 election cycle attempts by the radical-right to use LGBT rights as a wedge issue backfired time and again.  Senators Rodney Tom and Steve Hobbs are in swing districts and I think their principled supports of LGBT rights has motivated the progressive base in their districts while impressing all voters because they are willing to stand up for their beliefs in civil rights.

Perhaps this election year’s biggest upset was the election of Charlie Wiggins as Supreme Court Justice.  This race shows that taking a strong anti-gay position in statewide races is a detriment.

U.S. Senator Patty Murray received strong support from the LGBT community as well and was returned to office in an anti-incumbent year in part because her challenger opposed LGBT civil rights.  For so many voters in Washington state today that’s simply a deal breaker.

Rep. Walsh and Rep. Johnson certainly did take principled stands.  Responding to criticism of her pro-equality vote Rep. Walsh said:

“I have always felt to do anything different was discrimination,” Walsh said. “It’s not my place to say who loves whom. It seems to me God is the ultimate judge, but it’s not for me to be making those calls about who should have the same rights I have as a citizen of this country.” …

“I have to be true to myself,” she said. “If I did not do that, I would be a hypocrite. I could not continue to represent my district if I had to compromise my beliefs and morals.”

Rep. Johnson, the father of two gay sons, took an equally principled stand on his vote.

I feel I voted the right way, because to me it was pure and simple a vote of equality.”

In contrast, Brenda High and Michele Strobel took the mean-spirited low road.  ”She says she’s a Republican and I don’t think she is,” said High of Walsh during the campaign.  The Tri-City Herald said that Brenda High “is best known for advocating for anti-bullying legislation in states across the country after her son committed suicide in 1998 as a result of being bullied.”  Yet she answered equality-related questions on a candidate survey like a virulently anti-gay bully.

7. Domestic Partnerships: Granting same-sex partners the equivalent rights and benefits of marriage.

Oppose

The law of our Creator defined marriage as the union between a man and a woman.  I oppose any legal recognition of homosexual unions and oppose efforts to legalize adoption of children by homosexual singles or couples.

It’s worth noting that Washington State HB 1727 was co-sponsored by 55 Democrats and 2 Republicans, one of which was Maureen Walsh, of whom I’m running against.  HB 1727 is a bill designed to expand domestic partnerships, and “everything but marriage” law.  Part of the language that this bill specifically mentions, is that the terms, “husband and wife” shall be construed to be gender neutral, (pg 109 HB1727), this makes every married individual, “partners” with their husband or wife, I mean, partner.

8. Marriage: Redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.

Oppose

The marriage covenant is the foundation of the family, and the family is fundamental in the maintenance of a stable, healthy and prosperous social order.

The Franklin County Republicans who High penned the censure of Rep. Walsh for has links on its main web page to the anti-LGBT organizations Family Policy Institute of Washington, Family Research Council and the John Birch Society.  Family Research Council has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Friedes is right.  For so many voters in Washington state today a strong anti-LGBT position is simply a deal breaker whereas a principled, fair-minded position is a winner.
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Sarah Palin’s endorsement worth squat in Washington. How about in your state?

Map last updated Nov. 3rd. I re-colored the WA figures to reflect outcomes as of Nov. 12th.

Sarah Palin really bombed in Washington state.  Palin endorsed Clint Didier for Senate and John Koster and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers for House, according to Washington Post‘s Palin endorsement tracker (pictured right).  Didier lost in the primaries, Koster lost in the general and McMorris Rodgers was a shoe-in regardless.

There’s no doubt that some of the Republicans newly-elected to the House of Representatives were endorsed by Sarah Palin.  But in how many races was her endorsement actually meaningful?  I wonder how many times Palin stacked her “success” deck by endorsing sure-winners like Washington’s Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.  

From what I can tell, the candidates that Palin endorsed in Washington all won or lost independent of her endorsement.  Below the fold are some details on the three of them.

What about in your state?  Did Palin wave a magic tea bag and influence the outcome, or was she a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing?
Clint Didier (U.S. Senate challenger)

Washington Redskins tight end turned eastern Washington alfalfa farmer and tea party darling, Clint Didier was the first candidate in Washington to be endorsed by Sarah Palin.  In a publicity stunt, Palin summoned Didier away from potential supporters at the Washington State Republican conference back across the state to Richland for a meeting.  ”All geared up for the convention. Then I got the call from Sarah,” he tweeted.

Palin’s endorsement probably didn’t hurt Didier’s tea party credibility, but it couldn’t counterbalance serious credibility flaws in the candidate like this:

Despite his fierce anti-government rhetoric, Didier’s 1000-acre Pasco farm has benefited from direct federal crop subsidies, as well as government-subsidized irrigation water. See my article on that from earlier this week.

Other embarrassments included Didier’s participation one week before the primary in a smear campaign aimed at Dino Rossi, Didier’s major Republican opponent.  A proxy war, the smear campaign was conducted by fixtures of Washington’s radical-right, Sen. Val Stevens and Pastor Joe Fuiten.  Stevens endorsed Didier, Fuiten endorsed Rossi.  Beginning with an open letter from Stevens, the Didier camp alleged that Rossi wasn’t anti-choice enough.  The unseemly sight of “pro-life” advocates turning the fetus into a political football earned the Didier campaign criticism from other conservatives.

Didier came in 3rd in the primary with only 12.8% of the vote.  Dino Rossi would go on to challenge Senator Patty Murray in the general election.

After getting routed in the primary, Didier held hostage his own endorsement of Dino Rossi, conditioning it on Rossi agreeing to pledge.

Didier said he wants Rossi to sign a pledge that he won’t raise taxes, to promise to vote against any plan to increase federal spending, and to personally sponsor the Sanctity of Life Act, a measure that would attempt to ban the U.S. Supreme Court from ruling state abortion restrictions unconstitutional.

Didier quickly became a laughingstock.

[Former state Republican Party Chairman Chris] Vance said Didier, as a political newcomer, didn’t realize how politics should be played. For example, he noted that once Didier made his demands public, Rossi would only seem weak if he agreed to them.

“I would not be so arrogant to give Clint Didier advice on how to block an outside linebacker, but he’s brand new to politics and he doesn’t know how things work,” Vance said.

John Koster (WA-2 House Challenger)

Arch-conservative” is the term that usually comes to mind when describing John Koster.  After the 2010 election, perhaps “law-breaker” and “debate-ducker” will be used as well.  Late in October Publicola reported

…Koster has been accepting illegal corporate campaign contributions. The Federal Election Commission wrote Koster an angry letter back in September, demanding he return all the campaign contributions he received from corporations during the July expenditure reporting period. (Corporations are prohibited from giving money directly to federal political campaigns). …

This quarter’s reports have just been filed, and we checked them today to see if he’d returned the money. Nope. In fact, it looks to us as if Koster is still taking contributions from corporations. Silvergate Farms LLC, Quantum Construction Inc, and Boyden Robinett Association all sound like contributors that are sure to raise flags with the FEC.

On the matter of ducking debates, by the time Koster had backed out last minute of an October 21st televised debate, he’d already ducked three previous public fora.  The press was particularly mystified over Koster’s October 21 cancellation since the reason given by his campaign was that Koster didn’t “like one of the proposed debate panelists, a reporter who works for a newspaper that endorsed him.”.  Poor performance in public debates and interviews was widely recognized to be an Achilles heel for Koster’s big endorser, Sarah Palin.  Indeed, The Stranger‘s Eli Sanders postulated that Koster was avoiding televised debates because his campaign realized that he came across as angry and extreme on television.  The best bet was to just stay out of the spotlight and try to ride the anti-incumbent wave.

Although the 2010 election result wont be officially certified until November 22nd, as of Nov. 12th Koster was trailing Rep. Rick Larsen 48.9% to 51.1% and has conceded.  A few days previously, as Koster’s election-night lead began slipping away, Koster’s campaign manager Larry Stickney “implied Democrats might try to steal the election.”

Though John Koster remains in a position to win, we are keenly aware that there are those who will do everything they can to keep this seat out of the hands of the new House majority,” Koster’s campaign manager Larry Stickney said in a statement.

Larry Stickney also managed Koster’s 2000 bid for the same seat which he also lost to Rick Larsen.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5, WA)

Cathy McMorris Rodgers is a 3-term Republican incumbent in a heavily Republican district covering half of eastern Washington.  Running for re-election against a little-known Democrat, McMorris Rodgers was heavily favored to win re-election before Palin’s endorsement, and did so easily.  Palin’s endorsement was entirely superfluous.
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By and large, I’m happy with Washington State

I live in one of the most securely Democratic Congressional districts in the country, District 7 represented by Jim McDermott.

My state legislative district, 43, is represented by two openly gay men, Ed Murray in the Senate and Jamie Pedersen in the House (our other representative, Frank Chopp, is Speaker of the House.) Only Chopp drew any kind of opposition; Murray and Pedersen sailed through both the primary and the general election unopposed.

In 2008, the Washington Legislature had six openly gay members including Rep. Marko Liias (D-21), Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-33), Rep. Jim Moeller (D-49) and Sen. Joe McDermott (D-34); the five who stood for re-election (all but McDermott, whose term ends in 2012) will be returning to office along with a new member of the caucus: Laurie Jinkins (D-27) (mentioned here at PHB. Congradulations, Laurie!)

(Correction: Joe McDermott withdrew from the state Senate to run for the King County Council, District 8. He won that seat by a comfortable margin, so the gay caucus in the Legislature remains at six with the addition of Jinkins.)

Our Senate race for the other Washington is a bit of a squeaker, with Democrat Patty Murray currently leading Republican and perennial loser Dino Rossi by only a few votes: both are now listed as 50% with Murray holding a 4,000 vote lead. For all my griping, I did vote for her rather than writing someone else in. Wow, my vote might actually mean something.
Most of our incumbent Congresscritters are on their way to re-election. The only exception is District 2, between incumbent Democrat Rick Larsen and Republican challenger John Koster. Right now both are listed with 50%, with Koster holding a lead of about 400 votes.

The state initiatives are what I would have expected. We foolishly passed I-1053, which will require a 2/3 supermajority in both houses to pass any tax increases. We tried this before, and it was struck down by the state Supreme Court: our constitution allows the Legislature to pass all bills by a simple majority, and the constitution cannot be amended by initiative. Still, it will take time and money for this to get overturned, and it will end up further polarizing our conservative extremists.

The only other initiative result that I find disappointing is I-1098, which would have cut state property taxes, increased a credit that allows businesses to deduct federal taxes from their state Business and Occupation tax, and impose a small income tax on persons with an adjusted gross income of 0,000 individual or 0,000 joint. Meaning that Washington retains one of the most regressive taxing systems in the country.
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Washington Senate Republicans show how low you can go in a homophobic attack ad on Sen. Rodeny Tom

Talk about dirty low down.  The Washington Senate Republicans have no legitimate grounds to criticize Senator Rodney Tom (D-48, Bellevue), so they dropped a lie-infested mailer into the district too late for the traditional press to have time to react.  The ad equates Tom’s support of LGBT equality with being anti-woman.  This is laughable.  Sen. Tom has been a solid supporter of women’s rights and reproductive freedom.

Sen. Tom was a member of the republican party until about 4 years ago, but crossed the isle because of the GOP’s unrelenting gay bashing.  

Take a look as the tripe the Senate Republicans have spewed out.  I’m thinking it’s so over the top that it’ll backfire.  The voters of the 48th legislative district aren’t stupid.


End No-foult divorce.

Repeal Custody rights.

No more community property.

Rodney Tom has an agenda.

He recently revealed he wants to abolish women’s legal protections for child custody, community property and support.

You Can’t Count on RODNEY TOM


Rodney Tom, stop lashing out.

Your treatment of your women colleagues was shameful and now you’re cutting programs of vital concern to women, including breast and cervical cancer screening.  Your rhetoric shows a disregard for those less fortunate than you.

“He is obviously a very conflicted individual.”

– Sen. Margarita Prentice (D-Renton)

Tye Seattle Times, 3/13/2010

In the midst of the worst budgetary crisis our state has faced in 65 years, Rodney Tom is cutting women’s programs and speaking against women’s rights.

“The state should get out of the marriage business,” Tom said – leaving women without legal protections.

Before Nov. 2, vote “No” on Tom and his agenda.

I spoke with Senator Tom this morning and his response was strong and unequivocal:

It is a sad new low in Washington politics when you equate marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples with heterosexual couples losing the right to no-fault divorce and community property rights – it’s a complete lie.

It is despicable that [the Washington Senate Republicans] did this on the last day so that the press can’t take them to task.  I know in their hearts they knew that it was wrong.  If it were a legitimate hit they would have done it early in campaign.  Now there is no way that the Seattle Times can do a print piece about it.  This was surly intentional.

It is sad that politics has to get down to that level.  I think this does show the extreme nature of the Republican party.  No matter how they try to dress themselves up as moderate they still have extreme views on LGBT rights.  And this is coming from from someone who until 4 yrs ago was in the Republican Party.  The number one reason I left the party was because they’re so extreme on social issues.  Karl Rove has taken over and they no longer care about what’s right, decent or ethical, just about winning elections.

Update: Statement from Joshua Friedes, Executive Director of Equal Rights Washington is below. Other press releases will be added as they arrive.
According to Publicola, the mailer falsely quotes an interview they did with Sen. Tom.

In spooky bold font, the Republican ad blares: “End no-fault divorce. Repeal custody rights. No more community property. Rodney Tom has an agenda. He recently revealed he wants to abolish women’s legal protections for child custody, community property, and support.”

Their cite for the claim about Tom’s agenda? PubliCola.

And on the flip side of the mailer, the piece does quote a PubliCola interview with Sen. Tom:

“‘The state should get out of the marriage business,’ Tom said leaving women without legal protections.”

However, PubliCola never said anything about “leaving women without legal protections.” In fact, we’ve reported on Tom as a strong women’s advocate. He sponsored legislation that would make “Emergency Pregnancy Centers”-bait and switch anti-choice facilities-reveal what services they actually provide.

Here’s what we wrote:

Earlier this week, Republican state candidate Gregg Bennett told us he supports gay marriage. Bennett is an Eastside investor who’s running against incumbent Democratic state Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina).

Today, we asked Tom where he was on gay marriage. He told us, “the state should get out of the marriage business. A lot of countries in Europe do this. I have no issue with gay marriage. I think straight couples or gay and lesbian couples should all be treated equal and should get civil unions. Marriage should be between individuals and their church.”

Publicola goes on to relay this spot-on comment Chris Gregorich of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee:

“This is the most nonsensical political ad of the entire election cycle and it’s very telling that the Republican leadership would release it a day before election day. If such a blatantly homophobic and embarrassing ad were sent out any earlier, there would be a media firestorm in response. They are so desperate for a majority, they are willing to use hate, intolerance, and misinformation to mislead Washington voters.”

Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington have also strongly decried the ad, summarize his excellent legislative record and reiterate their solid support for Sen. Tom.

Planned Parenthood press release

November 2, 2010                                                                           Dana Laurent, Political Director

Planned Parenthood VOTES! Washington

cell (206) 913-8125

Elaine Rose, CEO

Planned Parenthood VOTES! Washington

(206) 328-7735 / cell (206) 794-9550

FALSE ATTACKS AGAINST RODNEY TOM DEGRADE IMPORTANT WOMEN’S ISSUES

“A recent mailer suggesting that Rodney Tom is unsupportive of women is preposterous, irresponsible and completely out-of-touch with reality,” said Elaine Rose, CEO, Planned Parenthood Votes! Washington.

Planned Parenthood Votes! Washington endorsed Rodney Tom for State Senator again this year because he has not only been a supporter of women’s access to reproductive health services and information, he’s been a champion.

Rodney Tom was the prime Senate sponsor of the Healthy Youth Act of 2007 which helps ensure that young people in our state get accurate, comprehensive health information including resources about how to prevent unintended pregnancies, stay safe in relationships, and recognize dating violence. Tom has also continually supported funding for family planning services which help women get vital health services like birth control, and breast and cervical cancer screenings.

Women deserve to know the truth. As an organization dedicated to protecting the health and rights of women in our state, we know that Rodney Tom has been there for women every step of the way. The accusations in the mailer are completely false and represent a disturbing low in political attacks. It’s time to stop using women’s rights as a political football.

Background: The mailer was funded by the Leadership Council, the soft-dollar PAC for the Senate Republican Campaign Committee.

###

Planned Parenthood Votes! Washington (PPVW) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization educating Washingtonians and policy-makers about reproductive health issues.

VOTES! lobbies and educates to advance Planned Parenthood’s mission and also engages in limited electoral activities.

NARAL Pro-Choice Washington

Outrageous 11th Hour Attack Against Pro-Choice State Senator Rodney Tom

Posted: 11/02/2010

Senate Republicans Send Out a Homophobic Mailer that Lies About Senator Tom’s Support for Women’s Health and Rights

In a last-ditch attempt to win the 48th legislative district Senate seat, Senate Republicans sent a mail piece that hit mailboxes yesterday making the outrageous allegation equating Senator Rodney Tom’s support for marriage equality with a supposed lack of support for women’s rights and health.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  ”Senator Tom is a strong and vocal advocate for the right to choose and for access to reproductive health care,” said Lauren Simonds, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington.  ”In fact, at a voter forum last month, Senator Tom reiterated his support for maintaining critical funding for family planning care, even in a time of state budget cuts.”

“This mail piece is deceptive on all fronts,” Simonds added.  ”It completely misrepresents not only Senator Tom’s steadfast support for women’s health care and women’s rights, but it uses his support for marriage equality to make a baseless allegation.”

“This mail piece is simply irresponsible,” Simonds said.

Download the mail piece here and here.

As part of its statewide pro-choice voter mobilization program, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington volunteers have contacted thousands of pro-choice voters in the 48th legislative district through phone banking and canvassing in support of Senator Tom’s re-election.

NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is the leading grassroots pro-choice advocacy organization in Washington state.  NARAL Pro-Choice Washington’s mission is to protect the full range of reproductive health options, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is the state affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Statement from Joshua Friedes, Executive Director of Equal Rights Washington

Rodney Tom has championed basic civil rights for Washington’s gay and lesbian families. Nothing should anger fair minded voters more than when people attack a legislator by telling voters that a legislators support for gay rights will hurt women. It’s the most absurd claim out there and it is a blatant lie. But this is exactly the attack being levied against State Senator Rodney Tom in the 48th district. And of course Tom’s opponents know that their mailer is false, that’s why they waited until the last minute so that the pro-choice community and gay rights community, which overlap considerably, would not have time to respond. But voters in the 48th can respond by reminding each other of the importance for voting for Rodney Tom.

The content of the mailer itself ironically demonstrates the support that exists in the 48th for LGBT civil rights. Years ago hatemongers could argue with some degree of success that one should not support a candidate because they support gay rights. Times have changed and today the majority of voters in Washington State support gay rights. As a result, the arguments used by the right are changing. The right today is trying to make ridiculous claims that supporting gay rights will hurt women or other historically discriminated against groups. What the right doesn’t want the people of the 48th district to know is that last year it was the prochoice community, and over 30 organizations representing communities of color who helped propel referendum 71 to victory. Referendum 71 upheld the states domestic partnership law. A law Rodney Tom supported, a law supported by the people of the 48th.



Joshua A. Friedes

Executive Director

Equal Rights Washington

Cross-posted at Washblog.
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WASHINGTON: Rally For Sanity Smashes All-Time Metro Ridership Record

Yesterday’s Rally For Sanity broke Washington’s all-time record for Metro ridership on a Saturday.

By preliminary estimates, Metro recorded 825,437 Metrorail trips on Saturday. Whether it served any of those riders very well is different question. The demand for public transit to attend the Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear — hosted by Comedy Central duo Stewart and Colbert — exceeded supply. Metro customers suffered long waits at various Metro stations throughout the city. Several even suffered injuries. Nevertheless, the new record fairly shattered the old record, set on June 8, 1991, when Washington played host to a victory celebration for U.S. troops who served in the First Gulf War. That day Metro recorded 786,358 trips. A 1997 Promise Keepers rally in the District has the third-place record, with 735,909 trips.

Of course, we’ll never know how many more people were turned away from using the subway (as was my group) because the cops were freaking out about how crowded the platforms were. We ended up walking the hour or so from our hotel to the Mall and it was amazing to look down the side streets and see tens of thousands of people streaming up from all directions.

RELATED: Despite the ridership count and all the other attendance reports, the Freepers are, of course, declaring that the lamestream media are conspiring to cook the head count so that Glenn Beck’s rally looks smaller in comparison.

Joe. My. God.

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Washington keeps trending towards marriage equality but isn’t there yet

For the 5th year in a row, the number of pro-equality voters in Washington state is increasing.  Last week The Washington Poll released the results of their annual fall poll of likely voters on questions including this one:

Q: Which of the following statements best describes your views on the issue of same-sex marriage?
  • Gay and lesbian couples should have the same legal right to marry as straight couples.
  • Gay and lesbian couples should be able to have the same legal rights as stright couples but it should not be called marriage.
  • There should be domestic partnerships that give gay and lesbian couples only some of the benefits and protections of marriage.
  • There should be no legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples.
  • Dunno/Getoffmylawn

  • The Washington Poll is a non-partisan academic survey research project sponsored by the University of Washington’s Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexuality.  They first asked this question in 2006.  I combed through previous reports so that we could look at the most recent results in historical context.  Looking at the graph above, the positive, unwavering trend towards equality is very clear.

    We saw this statistical trend validated last year when almost 53% of the Washington electorate voted to ratify the new comprehensive domestic partnership law via Referendum 71 (a national first!).  A post-election analysis showed that 38 of Washington’s 39 counties had demonstrated an increase in pro-equality voting since the last time an LGBT measure was on the ballot.

    So we’re ready to push for marriage equality in the legislature, right?  Well, not so fast.
    The really great news is that fully 29% of voters in Washington State believe gay and lesbian couples should be legally recognized.  But from here it gets a little more complicated.  The graph to the right should make you drool.  I’ve combined the results from the Washington Poll graph above into two pots: voters who support marriage equality or full domestic partnerships, and voters who support limited domestic partnerships or no legal recognition for lesbian and gay couples.  In the Land of Wishful Thinking, we’re nearing 70% support when you look at this way.  Do not look at it this way.  Then why am I showing you this?  So that you can see that we have great potential for success in Washington if we marshal our resources over the next 2 years..  

    Strong support for marriage equality currently polls somewhere close to 40%.  Taking a sober look at that number is vital because Washington is a referendum state and any marriage equality law passed by the legislature will almost certainly need to be defended at the polls.  The wild card are the 29% percent of voters who support giving same-sex couples all the rights and benefits of marriage but don’t want the  legal status called marriage. While many of these voters will ultimately support marriage equality we can’t even count on a majority of them.  And here is what we know about how voters actually behave when it comes to marriage referenda and initiatives.

    * Pre-election polls consistently underestimate opposition to marriage equality.

    * We cannot change voters’ attitudes on marriage equality during the course of an election campaign.

    These facts are well known to our leadership in the Washington state Legislature, and Senator Ed Murray for one has said he will file but not push a marriage equality bill until he’s satisfied that the electorate is ready to ratify it at the polls.

    Equal Rights Washington’s Executive Director Josh Friedes says we are at the point where we can seriously start talking about winning marriage equality at the ballot box as early as November 2012.  According to Friedes, what we need to do over the next 18 months is explain to voters why full domestic partnerships are not equivalent to marriage.


    Part of this conversation has to be sharing our personal stories and the stories of people we care about. We need to help people see that domestic partnerships don’t provide the dignity every person is entitled to.  Another part of the conversation has to be explaining how domestic partnerships do not attempt to confer the federal protections of marriage such as Social Security protections, immigration rights and equal treatment under the IRS tax code. Lastly we need to address the concerns many voters have, we need to ask adult children of same-sex couples to speak out so that ambivalent voters can see that our children grow up to be productive and well adjusted.

    It  takes a long time for voters to move on family recognition issues so we need to start now and since the key is personal conversations we need to fund an educational program that allows us to reach out to the 40% of voters who already strongly support marriage equality and ask them to speak to their social networks.

    Friedes says that its not so much that the work is hard, as it is costly. In California and Maine the money came too late.

    We need to fully fund a comprehensive education program that starts to roll out by mid 2011, if we have any intention of winning marriage on the ballot in November 2012.

    So what’s the moral of the story?  The latest poll results are incredibly encouraging, but we still have a lot of work to do, and it is work that cannot be put off until some electoral crunch time.  I’m game.  Are you in?
    Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

    —  John Wright

    Tomorrow In NYC’s Washington Square: Glowstick Vigil For LGBT Youth

    Sunday at 9pm thousands will gather in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park for a You-Are-Loved vigil for LGBT youth. (No candles, open flames are strictly forbidden.) Facebook event page:

    The vigil will start promptly at 9:00pm in Washington Square Park underneath the arch. Please bring your own glowstick if you have one as there will be a limited amount available. We will have at least 1,000 glowsticks to provide. The event will culminate in a chalking session in honor of the 2nd annual “You-Are-Loved Chalk Messaging Project.” This project is meant to provide uplifting messages as well as shed light on the amount of bullying, harassment, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts that disproportionately affect queer youth.

    Confirmed guests include the Trevor Project, Ali Forney Center, GLAAD, and Heritage of Pride. I will attend and document the event for JMG. Now where does one buy a glowstick in NYC?

    Joe. My. God.

    —  John Wright

    Washington Blade: Senate will vote on Defense bill with DADT language

    Breaking news this afternoon, courtesy of Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade:

    The Washington Blade has learned that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) intends to schedule a vote next week on major defense budget legislation that contains “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal language, regardless of any objection from members of the U.S. Senate.

    A senior Democratic leadership aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Reid met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday to inform the Republican leader that the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill will come to the Senate floor the week of Sept. 20.

    The aide said Senate leadership is anticipating the Senate won’t have unanimous consent to bring the legislation to the floor, so 60 votes will be necessary to end a filibuster and move forward with debate on the bill.

    “We are going to take it the floor next week to see where the votes are,” the aide said.

    So, we’re getting a vote and we need 60 votes.




    AMERICAblog Gay

    —  John Wright