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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 12, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 41
Justice Sanders voted no on marriage equality
Section One
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Justice Sanders voted no on marriage equality

Anti-LGBT judicial candidate Richard Sanders is a walking contradiction

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Few candidates offer political writers such interesting material as Richard Sanders, a former Washington Supreme Court justice who is now once again a candidate for a seat on the high court.

Sanders is unusual in being a self-proclaimed libertarian with a strong aversion to individual rights - at least where the LGBT community is concerned.

In the 2006 Andersen case, in which the state Supreme Court ruled that the legislature was within its rights to prohibit same-sex marriage, Sanders joined his colleague James Johnson in a concurring opinion that was even more extreme and anti-Gay than the majority opinion, authored by Justice Barbara Madsen.

The legislature was not merely within its rights to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, as Madsen argued, but quite correct to do so, Johnson and Sanders said. Only opposite-sex couples can legitimately be married, they wrote, because of 'the unique and binary biological nature of marriage and its exclusive link with procreation and responsible child rearing.'

Johnson and Sanders quoted from a previous federal court ruling that 'monogamy is inextricably woven into the fabric of our society' and is 'the bedrock upon which our culture is built.'

Their opinion also said that same-sex families are unsuitable for child rearing because 'studies show an average shorter term commitment and more sexual partners for same-sex couples,' and 'less stable homes equate to higher welfare and other burdens on the state.'

In the opinion, Johnson and Sanders mocked arguments for LGBT rights as 'special interests loudly advocating the latest political correctness.'

LONG RECORD OF BIGOTRY
While the opinion in Andersen v. King County is perhaps the most notorious anti-Gay ruling Sanders participated in, it is not the only one.

In Heinsma v. City of Vancouver, Sanders was the lone dissenter in an 8-1 decision upholding Vancouver's right to offer health insurance to domestic partners of city employees.

In Vasquez v. Hawthorne, in which a Gay man sued for the right to inherit his deceased partner's property, Sanders voted with the majority to send the case back to a lower court for retrial, but added a separate opinion arguing that the lower court should deny the surviving partner inheritance rights.

Four years after Vasquez, the Supreme Court heard a child custody case involving two women who had been in a Lesbian relationship, had a child through artificial insemination, and then split up.

In a 7-2 decision the court established the legal precedent for custody rights in same-sex relationships in this state, ruling that the non-birth mother was entitled to parental rights. Sanders and Johnson dissented, arguing that the non-birth mother 'is not a parent under any reading of our constitution.'

Their dissent concluded that the majority's opinion was mainly about bowing down to 'current notions of political correctness.'

In 1995, during his first run for a Supreme Court seat, Sanders handed out flyers titled 'The Pekelis Agenda,' denouncing his incumbent opponent, Rosselle Pekelis, for ruling against an Orcas Island woman who put her child up for adoption and then decided she wanted the child back when she discovered the adoptive parents were a Gay couple.

ANTI-CHOICE CELEBRATION
Sanders beat Pekelis, and immediately after being sworn in at the Temple of Justice in Olympia, he walked across the street to celebrate at an anti-abortion rally. As he recalled, 'I walked across the street to a March for Life event and thanked my supporters.'

Sanders' opponent is constitutional law attorney Sheryl Gordon McCloud, who was profiled in SGN's September 14 issue. McCloud argues that Sanders lacks the 'judicial temperament' necessary to serve on the Supreme Court.

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