by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a group opposed to same-sex marriage, announced on January 18 that it is prepared to spend $250,000 on primary challenges against any Republican legislators who vote for Washington's marriage equality bill.
The NOM announcement came just hours after Republican Reps. Maureen Walsh (R-16) and Glenn Anderson (R-5) said they would split with the majority of their Republican colleagues and vote for the bill.
'We intend to hold every legislator accountable for his or her vote on marriage,' NOM president Brian Brown said in a statement.
'Any Republican who votes to redefine marriage can count on funding of a primary challenge to them. All legislators need to know that the same-sex marriage lobby wants to destroy the institution of marriage, redefining not just marriage, but also 'husband,' 'wife,' 'mother,' and 'father.'
Brown went on to claim credit for overturning the former Democratic majority in New Hampshire's legislature and defeating marriage equality in a Maine referendum.
'In New Hampshire NOM worked with grassroots organizations to flip the state legislature there after liberal Democrats legalized same-sex marriage in 2009. NOM played in 119 House races and won all of them. As a result, the New Hampshire legislature is now poised to restore the rightful definition of marriage in the coming weeks,' Brown claimed.
'Our work in Minnesota and Maine also helped deliver a pro-marriage majority to both states. Minnesota will vote on a pro-marriage amendment in 2012 thanks to a bipartisan majority of legislators in both houses.'
NOM also threatened to work for an anti-equality referendum if Washington's legislature does pass the marriage equality bill.
'NOM will also work to make sure that, if the State Legislature legalizes same-sex marriage, the people of Washington have the right to vote on it and repeal the work of the legislature,' their statement added.
'I am unable to compromise&'
Republican Rep. Maureen Walsh of Walla Walla announced her support for marriage equality on January 17 in a letter to Seattle activist Janice Van Cleve. Van Cleve decided to share the letter with SGN 'because she felt that some expressions by political leaders rise above personal communication by virtue of their eloquence, depth of feeling, and universal application. Maureen's letter rises to that level.'
In the letter, Walsh acknowledged that the issue of marriage equality is 'contentious,' and added, 'Many of my constituents will not approve of my stance on this legislation and I respect their right to disagree with me on this.'
Walsh also voted in favor of the Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill in 2009 - the measure that was challenged by the right and ultimately approved by voters as Referendum 71.
Her vote then earned her a formal censure by the Franklin County Republican organization and a primary challenger in 2010, but she beat her primary opponent in a landslide, with more than 77% of the vote.
In her letter to Van Cleve, Walsh says that, as a Roman Catholic, she was concerned that churches not be forced to perform marriages against their religious teachings, but added she was satisfied with the bill's religious exemption.
'Some may question if I am truly a Republican,' Walsh concludes.
'I would submit that a core tenet of the Republican Party is individual freedom. As a legislator, my vote on the vast majority of bills is cast on what is in the best interest of the people in my district. When confronted with issues of conscience such as this, I am unable to compromise on what I truly believe is the right thing to do in my heart and in my mind.
'It might be politically easier for me to vote no on this issue and not be subjected to the many undesirable comments I have/will receive. But I signed up for this job, am truly honored to serve, and hope my constituents agree that I must be true to my convictions.'
An equal protection issue
Rep. Glenn Anderson, a Republican from Fall City, announced his support for marriage equality the next day.
In a lengthy and closely argued statement released on January 18, Anderson says he has concluded that Gay and Lesbian couples have a 14th Amendment right to civil marriage.
'If there was ever an issue that deserved more than advocacy sound-bites by either side in our civic debate, this is that issue,' Anderson says in his statement. 'It is religion, sex, and politics all wrapped into one issue.'
Anderson says his research on the issue led him to three conclusions:
'First,' he says, 'the compelling primary purpose of civil marriage remains to provide a neutral and secular foundation for social order and an orderly transfer of property rights for the collective good, regardless of individual differences.
'Second, the distinction between civil and religious marriage is a long-settled question between religious organizations and civil government in Western culture.
'And third, there is sufficient physiological research and consistent historical record to suggest that homosexuality is a normal, if much less frequent, genetic expression of human biology.'
Based on these Conclusions, Anderson says, he believes that just as discrimination based on race is unacceptable under the constitution, discrimination based on sexual orientation must also be unacceptable.
'This is certainly a big change in our cultural expectations and it will take time to fully sort it all out,' Anderson admits.
'It took almost 100 years from the ratification the 14th Amendment after the American Civil War until the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of the 1960s. Hopefully, we have learned much from that experience and it won't take so long on this issue.'
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