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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 18 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 42
SGN exclusive interview: State Rep. Marko Liias - Openly Gay lawmaker sets his cap for the Senate
Section One
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SGN exclusive interview: State Rep. Marko Liias - Openly Gay lawmaker sets his cap for the Senate

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Marko Liias has his eye on the Washington State Senate. The openly Gay representative from the 21st Legislative District, which includes neighborhoods in Edmonds, Everett, Lynnwood, and Mukilteo, has, since January 2008, focused on policies to advance a strong economy based on good-paying jobs, a safe and quality education system, and a balanced transportation system that serves the whole community. And now, he tells Seattle Gay News, he will bring those values to the Senate if elected.

'Unfortunately, our State Senate has become dominated by the same extremist, Tea Party politics that we have seen lately in D.C.,' Rep. Liias told SGN. 'In fact, our state government came within days of shutting down in July, for many of the same reasons that we have seen in the last couple weeks in D.C.'

'Our government can only function when both sides are willing to communicate, negotiate, and compromise,' he said. 'But, when the Tea Party views compromise as defeat and negotiation as weakness, our basic democratic process breaks down.'

SHAME OF THE SHUTDOWN
'At the end of the day, there are real people who depend on our ability to make government work for them,' Liias reasoned. 'We have a million school kids who depend on our public schools. We have hundreds of thousands of seniors and disabled who depend on in-home care. When extremists in the Tea Party shut the government down because they aren't willing to compromise, these kids and these seniors are the ones who pay the price. I have demonstrated an ability to sit down, have the tough conversations, and reach a compromise. That's what I will do in the State Senate.'

It is no secret that Liias is Gay. He is open about it and has thrown support behind Washington's marriage equality bill and more. But with equality comes an even playing field, and while Liias doesn't discount what being Gay means in his personal life, he doesn't see the need to run for the Senate as a 'Gay candidate.' Instead, he says he is running as a representation of what it means to be a diverse candidate - meaning there are many introspections in his personal and professional life that aid him when making tough decisions.

'Over the last six years, I have demonstrated that my own personal story has made me a strong, effective voice for the middle class,' he told SGN. 'As a Gay person, I have personally experienced what it's like to be denied basic opportunities, like the right to marry the person I love. That's why I worked so hard to pass marriage equality, and it's why I work hard every day to make sure other families have the same opportunities I have had.

'Our community is stronger because we are diverse, and I look forward to bringing our diverse voices to the State Senate,' said Liias.

'For the past six years, I have built a strong, progressive record of results,' he said. 'From education to transportation, I have shown that you can be principled, tough, and still deliver results.'

'NEW GENERATION'
On his campaign website, the lawmaker says, 'I am proud to represent a new generation of Democrats, and a new generation of political leaders - socially progressive, supportive of small business, and unafraid to stand up to special interests.'

His campaign slogan is simple: 'A Voice for the Middle Class.'

Liias told SGN that when he says he will stand up for the middle class, 'I really mean it.'

'I grew up in a middle-class family, I was the first to graduate from college, and I helped start a small business,' he said. 'I know that our economy only works when we grow it from the middle out, when we create more opportunity, and when we give everyone a chance to succeed.'

'Those are the values that I will bring to the State Senate, and that's why I need help building a strong, people-powered campaign to help me get there,' he concluded.

For information about Rep. Liias and how to get involved in his campaign, visit http://markoforsenate.com.

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