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State Republican Party endorses bigoted Ref. 71
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State Republican Party endorses bigoted Ref. 71

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

At a meeting of their State Committee on August 29, the Washington State Republican Party endorsed rejection of Referendum 71, a vote which would nullify SB 5688, and deny domestic partnership rights to same-sex couples.

On Monday, August 31, state Republican Chair Luke Esser issued the following statement on behalf of his party:

"The Washington State Republican Party is urging voters to reject Referendum 71 at the ballot in November. Supporters of the 'everything but marriage' bill have made it clear that their bill is just the latest installment of an effort to mandate Gay marriage in our state. The choice is clear for those who do not support Gay marriage. Now that R-71 has qualified for the ballot, the voters will have the final say. Over the next two months it's important for voters to educate themselves on this measure and make sure their voice is heard at the ballot box."

Contacted by SGN on Wednesday for clarification, State Republican Party Communications Director Patrick Bell declined to say whether he thought that same-sex couples had a right to form relationships with benefits guaranteed by law.

"You should refer to the Party's program," Bell said.

The State Republican Party platform says, in part "Government's responsibility is to uphold and respect traditional institutions, such as marriage between one man and one woman, protect the elderly and children from the harmful elements of society, and defend the sanctity of life from conception to natural death."

Asked if he wished to elaborate on the platform statement, Bell replied, "No, I don't think so."

King County Republican Chair Lori Sotelo did not return repeated calls from SGN for a comment on the State Party's action.

Ken Nielsen, president of the Washington State Log Cabin Republicans, an LGBT Republican group, told SGN, "Log Cabin Washington disagrees with the Washington State Republican Party's urging of a 'No' vote on R-71. Log Cabin Washington urges all voters to vote 'Yes' on R-71 in November."

"Being out and active in the state Republican Party and discussing R-71 and how it benefits all Washingtonians is how Log Cabin Washington will challenge [the party's] position," Nielsen added.

King County Executive candidate Susan Hutchinson let it be known through her campaign manager Jordan McCarren that she will vote to approve Referendum 71.

The county executive position is now a non-partisan office, and Hutchinson has declined to discuss her party affiliation, but she has been known to contribute money exclusively to Republican candidates. McCarren previously worked on Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign.

Polling data from 2008, newly analyzed by the Washington Poll affiliated with the University of Washington, showed that Republicans generally did not agree with the official position taken by their party.

A full 53.1% of Republicans in the sample approved of full domestic partnership rights, and another 15.6% agreed with more limited domestic partnerships. Only 31.3% of the Republicans sampled wanted to deny same-sex couples any rights whatsoever.

People of all political affiliations who voted for Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008 were more traditionalist than even the self-identified Republicans, however. Only 38.8% of the McCain voters supported full domestic partnership rights and 42.1% opposed any rights at all.

As might be expected, Democrats heavily supported domestic partnerships - 85.7% of Democrats in the sample agreed with full domestic partnership rights, with only 5.4% opposing any rights at all.

By contrast with the McCain voters, 88.4% of Obama voters supported full domestic partnership rights, with only 5% opposed to any rights for same-sex couples. The poll has a margin of error of 4%.

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