Who Hijacked Our Country

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Washington’s Version of the Salem Witch Hunts

The State of Washington doesn’t have gay marriage. The state provides some benefits for gay civil unions, and just this year the state legislature passed a law expanding the rights and benefits for domestic partnerships. The law is nicknamed “Everything But Marriage.”

Because of the economic meltdown, benefits that would be covered by taxpayers are being delayed until the economy improves. So, gay couples can have most (and soon all) of the rights and benefits of married couples, but it isn’t called “marriage.” Everybody’s happy. Right?

Never ever ever underestimate the petty meanness of a gang of Biblehumpers looking for a scapegoat. Their hatred and bigotry are exceeded only by the huge amount of free time they obviously have.

The Washington Values Alliance is collecting signatures to put a referendum on the state ballot next November, which would overturn the “Everything But Marriage” law.

Here’s another link to the group.

If they collect enough signatures — they have until July 25th — the “Everything But Marriage” law will be delayed until after the November election (and that’s assuming the referendum gets defeated by voters).

The Washington Values Alliance president, Larry Stickney, was preoccupied and unavailable for comment. Several other members of the group were also a little, uh, busy.

Several “Christian” organizations tried to defeat Washington’s assisted suicide referendum last November; it passed by a landslide. Here’s hoping these busybodies can’t collect enough signatures for their current flamefest. If they do, their referendum will hopefully get trounced by the voters next November.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Anonymous S.W. anderson said...

This is messy democracy in action. Anyone who has a problem with things like fairness and honoring others' human rights can get a up a petition or run as a candidate pledged to make life a little worse for all those who disagree with him/her.

Washington state has had a serious referendum problem for at least the last 25 years. It's become a racket. The bar should be raised on these things that give too much leverage to pressure groups and end up costing all state taxpayers too much money.

Bad enough our legislators are part timers, which in too many cases means amateurs. Letting the legislators thinking/work be nullified or further screwed up by kooks pushing a referendum just makes a less-than-ideal situation worse.

May 16, 2009 at 9:07 PM  
Anonymous Carlos said...

It never ceases to amaze me how a minority of narrow-minded cretins thinks they appointed by God to impose their "values" on everyone else in their midst.

May 17, 2009 at 4:05 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: Astroturf groups have definitely hijacked the initiative process. This trend was already up and running in California by the late '70s. A multimillion dollar astroturf group plus an army of paid signature gatherers equals "the voice of the people."

I don't know if the answer is to raise the bar or just hope for smarter voters. (I can dream can't I?)

Carlos: And the tinier the minority, the more shrill and self-righteous they are.

May 17, 2009 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

I never ceased to be amazed by the number of perfect people in this country whose lives are so together that they feel they have earned the right to tell other people how to live.

May 17, 2009 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lew: That must be it. They've found Jesus and they insist on "sharing" Him with everybody.

May 17, 2009 at 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Bee said...

We're on a common theme tonight, I see:)

I hoping for reason to prevail in Washington state. Hell, if Iowa can make it happen...well, it's Iowa, dude. Come'on, Washington state is way more likely a place for gay equality than Iowa.

Anyway, good luck - hope your state does right. Mine sold it's soul to the talibangelicals in 2006.

May 17, 2009 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

S.W. is very right on here. This kind of thing can become an out-of-control mess.

Oregon's referendum situation is similar to that of Washington's. Down here we have Bill Sizemore creating most of the trouble, with his ballot measures designed to attack public employees and unions. Any more it's getting harder and harder for Bill and his buddies to get stuff passed, in part due to public backlash against him but also due to some of the stuff of this type getting passed... and then the state suffering dire consequences afterward.

One was a measure that took away property taxes as a way of funding the state's schools. For the last 15 years or so, Oregon's schools have been in trouble and getting more that way each year. A couple of others have increased prison populations by quite a bit with stuff like "three strikes and you're out".

If any of these measures change a funding source for something, you can be guaranteed there is nothing in the ballot measure describing a new or alternate funding source for the item in question. Those of us who have lived in Oregon long enough realize such measures are designed to defund (and therefore, to basically eradicate) things which certain political groups find objectionable.

Like with the public school funding measure, the kooks portrayed it as a way for people to not have to pay so much in property taxes any more. Most people in Oregon like the public school system. There are some groups making inroads and causing increasing public dissatisfaction with our school system, but 15 years ago it wasn't like that. People liked the schools just fine. Ooooh, but that carrot of lower property taxes was dangled, and that measure passed. It was close, but as a result of its passage, the hard righties who sponsored have made good progress toward their goal of privatizing all the schools. Bunch of bastards.

These things that make the ballot in Oregon usually amount to this: the measures are punitive, usually designed to punish some kind of straw man or opposing political group. Occasionally the voters get snookered into approving one of these ill-conceived and poorly-designed monstrosities, and it becomes law... an unfunded mandate which costs Oregonians by hitting them in the pocketbook.

Luckily one of these bastard measures will get overturned in court once in a while because the writers didn't write it well enough to keep it from being declared unconstitutional in courts of law. But then the conservatives all howl about how their votes don't matter, they get angrier, there are more ballot measures next year, etc.

It is indeed a racket. Sizemore has faced racketeering charges, and he has paid huge fines... but he is still engaged in the industry of signature-gathering for the approval of ballot measures which, if passed, will benefit only a handful of people.

It is a shame outfits like the witch hunters in WA exist. We dealt with Lon Mabon and his anti-gay measures for a few years down here... the "no special rights" crap, as if guaranteeing gays and lesbians their rights as citizens amounted to giving them special treatment... that's just about enough to make me scream.

I hope common sense will prevail in WA, but sadly, we should never underestimate the power of religion.

Tom, why does it seem that the tiny, shrill minority is always the one that gets the most press, the most publicity? Sometimes it almost seems like our media is afraid to marginalize kooks, or to at least give equal time to the views of those who oppose them. I guess maybe the shrillness itself is the story. Sad, sad, sad.

May 17, 2009 at 5:34 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Bee: I think reason will prevail in Washington. Washington's assisted suicide referendum passed by a landslide last November, in spite of a huge campaign against it by a bunch of phony "Christians."

Snave: Bill Sizemore sounds like Oregon's answer to Tim Eyman of Washington. And of course California had Howard Jarvis in the late '70s. After he turned the whole property tax structure upside down, he tried a bunch of other "de-funding" initiatives; I don't think any of them passed.

Yeah, don't you love those "special rights" that homosexuals are always demanding. Like the right not to be discriminated against is some sort of privilege. LOL. It sure does seem like the smaller a group is, the more noise they make and the more grease they get.

May 17, 2009 at 8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the bad news

In the history of civil rights. Rights by initiative rarely win. In other words the majority never gives the minority a bone.

All the great victories come from legislature and the courts which always made them harder to overturn and a little more stable (after all who reads these initiatives anyway?) over the years.

In my Latte Drinking, Hybrid driving state, the Supreme Court decision was overturned by voters, the Churches and the right wing formed some weird bedfellows and worked together to defeat it. The Gay marriage side coasted believing the polls that people were going to turn it down and so ran a bad campaign.

Expect Carpetbaggers from all over the country on this one (especially since you are so close to the Idaho Mormons) I wish you luck.

Micheal Steele said today in the news to push Gay Marriage as a another growing cost to business in order to have the fiscal conservatives come on board.


May 18, 2009 at 12:33 AM  
Blogger bob said...

I'm reading a pretty interesting book now called: " The Age of Anxiety", which at length talks about the McCarthy years. The book basically pinpoints the start of what would become the modern day Republican party. We have McCarthy to thank for:

1: Bringing the notion that all media is liberally biased.( if the media disputes what you say- then they're automatically and obviously liberal)

2: That all socialism is inherently evil.

3: The the truth is less important than convincing the masses to believe a lie.

4: Developed the now-standard Republican practice of demonizing the opponent and using the tactic of playing into people's fear in order to win votes. The use of scary words like "communist", "Socialism", and even "liberal" are still used commonly today.

5: Claiming they are upholding a superior value system -aka- military service, Christianity, and so on.

But the bottom line is that its interesting to see what still occurs in today's politcs. Its much of the same fear tactics, blind belief in a value system, and lack of concerted effort to fully understand the details as was partially invented by the McCarthy era.

May 18, 2009 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: That's true, legislators and judges are generally ahead of the public on issues like this. That's the way it's meant to be, since we elect our representatives to represent us; and if judges aren't elected, they're appointed by elected officials. The referendum is a great too, but it's too easily misused by demagogues.

I'm sure there will be carpetbaggers from all over the country coming to Washington, just like with California and the gay marriage initiative. But from what I've read, there isn't as much momentum for overturning the "everything but marriage" law. Even some of the Old Testament types are saying they need to save their time and money for the "more important" issues -- gay marriage rather than civil unions. But there's always the danger of getting too complacent.

Bob: Sounds like an interesting book. There are definitely a lot of parallels between McCarthyism and today's demonizing of liberals, gays and "Socialism!" And of course anybody who had the mildest criticism of GW Bush was answered with "you're with the terrorists!" "You hate your country!" That's definitely straight out of the McCarthy handbook.

May 18, 2009 at 3:11 PM  

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