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Posts for September, 2012

Expedia supports equality

Timothy Kincaid

September 4th, 2012

And the list keeps growing:

Washington United for Marriage, the coalition working to defend the state’s bipartisan marriage law, today announced that Expedia, the world’s largest online travel company with household brands like Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Classic Vacations and Hotwire, has endorsed the freedom to marry and the effort to approve Referendum 74 this November.

Headquartered in Bellevue, Expedia has 2,270 employees in Washington State and 8,900 worldwide. In its statement President and CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote, in part:

“As the world’s largest online travel company — with operations in well over 30 countries — we know firsthand that the world is a diverse place. Much like our customers, clients, partners, and suppliers, our employees represent a multitude of locations, cultures and experiences. …

“We strive to actively promote equality in our workplace and are committed to treating one another with respect and dignity. … Today, we add our voice to the topic of marriage equality. We thoughtfully engage in this public discussion because it has significant impact on our employees, customers, and partners, all with whom we interact daily. Supporting the legislation recently passed in Washington State — which provides same-sex couples with the same right to civil marriage that opposite sex couples already enjoy — is a natural extension of our ongoing commitment to the LGBT community.”

You know, it’s an indication of just how quickly that this issue is shifting that so many companies who did not come out to support the domestic partnership bill just three years ago are now willing to announce their support for full marriage equality.

But I guess that means that the National Organization for (some people’s) Marriage will stick with the Roaming Gnome.

For now.

T-Mobile endorses marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

August 20th, 2012

Today, T-Mobile USA announced the company’s endorsement of Referendum 74 by donating to, and supporting the efforts of, Washington United for Marriage, the broad, bipartisan statewide coalition working to defend the state’s marriage law.

“T-Mobile has a long-standing focus on creating an inclusive workplace environment for our employees,” said Jim Alling, interim chief executive officer and chief operating officer. “Our support of this issue is a reflection of our culture, how we do business, and our belief in the fair and equitable treatment of all employees.”

In related news, Brian Brown just declared Godzilla has risen from the sea to stomp on the T-Mobile headquarters.

Amazon’s amazing support

Timothy Kincaid

July 27th, 2012

Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, and his wife, MacKenzie, have joined the list of prominent Washington businesses and CEO’s that have come out in support of marriage equality in that state. And all because former employee Jennifer Cast – one of the company’s first – asked.

On Sunday cast emailed Bezos asking for a contribution to the campaign in support of Referendum 74. “We need help from straight people. To be very frank, we need help from wealthy straight people who care about us and who want to help us win.” Bezos’ reply:

Jen, this is right for so many reasons. We’re in for $2.5 million. Jeff & MacKenzie.

I’m sorry. I should have given you a tissue warning.

Oddly enough, NOM’s blog site seems not to have gotten the news. They’re still talking about chicken.

Anti-Gays not collecting much cash in Washington

Timothy Kincaid

July 11th, 2012

If the anti-gay activists had a dollar for every signature they collected to put Referendum 74 on the ballot, they’d be a hundred thousand richer. Which merely proves that it’s easy to get people to sign petitions about things they care very little about.

We told you that the pro-marriage coalition raked in nearly a million bucks last month and now the numbers are official (Seattle Times)

The campaign seeking to overturn the state’s new gay marriage law raised just over $17,000 in cash in June, much less than the nearly $900,000 in cash donations raised by supporters of the law.

According to Public Disclosure Commission filings that posted Tuesday, Preserve Marriage has raised a total of $139,702 for its campaign. Washington United for Marriage has raised more than $2 million.

Nearly $M last month for marriage

Timothy Kincaid

July 9th, 2012

Seattle Times

Supporters of gay marriage in Washington state said Monday that they raised more than $952,000 last month for the campaign to uphold the state’s new law, which is currently on hold pending the outcome of a November ballot measure.

But that’s just last month

As of Monday, Washington United for Marriage said it had raised more than $2 million for the campaign to fight back attempts to overturn the law. Preserve Marriage Washington, which collected the signatures to get R-74 on the ballot, has raised more than $135,000, according to the most recent numbers with the Public Disclosure Commission, though it hasn’t yet submitted its totals for June.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage, which was involved in ballot measures that overturned same-sex marriage in California and Maine, has said it will fight to strike down the law, and has loaned regional coordinator Christopher Plante to the local campaign.

“We expect to be outspent on this,” said Plante, who is now serving as deputy campaign manager for Preserve Marriage.

Ya think?

You know that you’ve lost the “protect marriage” battle, when…

Timothy Kincaid

July 6th, 2012

… the United Methodist Church in Washington votes to endorse the marriage referendum, Referendum 74. (SeattlePI)

The church’s Pacific Northwest Annual Conference passed a resolution worded to “encourage all people to approve Referendum 74 so that the Marriage Equality Act can be put into law.”

Washington’s Ref 74 Qualifies For The Ballot

Jim Burroway

June 13th, 2012

It is now official:

The secretary of state’s office announced Tuesday that Referendum 74 passed the signature-verification process that has been taking place since last week.

Sponsors turned in 247,331 signatures, far more than the minimum of 120,577 valid voter signatures required. A 3 percent random sample was done and of the 7,561 signatures that were sampled during the check, 6,877 were accepted and the rest were rejected.

Last February, when Governor Chris Gregoire signed the marriage equality bill into law, opponents announced that they would immediately begin the task of collecting signatures to put a referendum on the ballot to overturn the law. They filed those signatures with the Secretary of State earlier this month, just one day before the law was to go into effect. By filing the signatures, they blocked the law, which now remains suspended until voters can approve Ref 74 in November. Unlike most other campaigns, a “yes” vote on Ref 74 will result in marriage equality for the state’s residents.

Mormons for Marriage in Washington

Timothy Kincaid

June 12th, 2012

We will win our battle for equality. And when we do, many of those who do not support us today will be cheering.

The irony is that equality is a value that people believe in and the exceptions made so as to disenfranchise gay people from our place in the social fabric are flimsy and it is only prejudice and tradition and ignorance that allow them to sound reasonable.

And those who live their lives under a structure of faith-based love are rapidly discovering them to be contrary to what they believe. As they come to join us, they will so because of their faith – not despite it – and will advocate with religious fervor and zeal.

Religion Dispatches interviewed Sara Long and Scott Holley about what led them to become pro-gay Mormons and their efforts towards equality in Washington State. I found about eight things I wanted to copy and write about here – which was about the whole interview and way too much – so you have to go read it yourself.

But the heart of it lies in this:

SL: Yes, when my children grow up I want them to look back and know that I did something during this civil rights effort. I want to make it clear that I did everything I could to advocate for equality.

[Note: above corrected: “…they will so not because of their faith – not despite it…”]

Washington Marriage Opponents File Signatures

Jim Burroway

June 6th, 2012

Marriage equality opponents in Washington filed more than 200,000 signatures today for a referendum to place the state’s same-sex marriage law up for a vote. The group, Preserve Marriage Washington, submitted the signatures just one day before the law granting full marriage to same-sex couples, which was signed into law in February, was due to take effect. By filing these signatures, that puts the law on hold while State officials review the filing to determine whether Referendum 74 will qualify for the ballot.

If Referendum 74 does qualify, it will set up an unusual dynamic in the upcoming election. For all thirty-two previous ballot campaigns on marriage equality, a “no” vote was the vote to cast to prevent permanent bans on same-sex marriage to be written into state constitutions. But for Referendum 74, a “yes” vote is the vote for marriage equality. That is already starting to confuse some people:

My neighbor walked into the coffee shop this morning—a working mom, has a wonderful kid, thriving career, acres of smarts, and enthusiastic support for gay marriage—and proudly informed me she was prepared to reject Referendum 74. Which seems like it makes sense. Anti-gay Preserve Marriage Washington is trying to place R-74 on the ballot to repeal Washington State’s marriage law, so naturally a person like my neighbor thinks that she wants to reject whatever they’re doing. But she doesn’t. She wants to approve R-74.

I’m sure that will trip us up once or twice before this thing is over.

Washington’s Ref 74 soon to be a reality

Timothy Kincaid

May 31st, 2012

Those who are gathering signatures for R-74, a referendum on Washington’s November ballot putting that state’s marriage law up to confirmation from the voters, are predicting that they will turn in sufficient ballots to ensure qualification on next Tuesday. They will need 120,577 valid signatures, have about 150,000 from volunteers and project that when paid signatures are added in the total will exceed 200,000.

Three years ago, a sister referendum putting domestic partnership expansions before the voters (Ref 71) had so few surplus signatures that there was a strong suspicion that it would not qualify. After over a week of counting and comparing to voter rolls, there was a margin of only a few thousand valid signatures. This time around, absent a shockingly low validation rate, the referendum is assured to go before voters.

The good news is that a Strategies 360 poll for the Associated Press found strong support for legal marriage among likely voters.

Do you think it should be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples to get married?

54% – legal
33% – illegal
4% – depends
8% – “Elvis is living in my basement”

The poll has a margin of error of 4.4% and appears to have valid methodology and does not seem to have any leading questions. While this question does not specifically ask about intent to vote on Referendum 74, it is very encouraging.

Support comes from 87% of Democrats, 52% of Independents, and 22% of Republicans. And a strong majority of support comes from King County and North Puget Sound while West Washington polled at 50% to 37% and East Washington eked out a plurality of 44% to 41%. Age trended predictably with only those over 65 failing to produce a majority (44% to 40%).

The election should have a strong turn-out as while the poll shows support for the reelection of Barack Obama, the gubernatorial race is within the margin of error with Republican Rob McKenna leading. Additionally, questions on the ballot about the legalization of marijuana and college tuition may ensure that younger voters show up at the polls.

NOM may blather on about “31 states” and “the people have always voted no” but we have a very good chance at winning in Washington.

NOM Boycotts Starbucks

Jim Burroway

March 21st, 2012

Maggie Gallagher and Johnathan Baker, National Organization for Marriage’s director for what they call “The Corporate Fairness Project,” attended the annual Starbucks shareholder meeting today. Baker, as a Starbucks shareholder, addressed the meeting and took the board to task for the “controversial stand Starbucks has taken here in Washington in support of same-sex marriage.” Citing a Starbucks message endorsing Washington’s Referendum 74, a proposal that would allow marriage equality to take effect in the state, as reflecting Starbucks’ core values as a company, Baker asked if that decision was made by the board of directors and questioned whether the decision would hinder the company’s efforts to expand internationally. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz responded:

Any decision of this type or magnitude has be made with great thoughtfulness and I would assure you that a senior team of Starbucks discussed this. And it was, to be candid with you, not something that was a difficult decision for us and we did share this with some members of the board as well. [Applause and cheers]

I don’t want to answer the question in any way that would be disrespectful to you or other people who might see it differently. I think Starbucks has many constituents, and from time to time we are going to make a decision that we think is consistent with the heritage and the tradition of the company that perhaps may be inconsistent with one group’s view of the world or a decision we may make. I said earlier in my prepared remarks that we’re not perfect, and from time to time we may make a mistake or people may view it as a mistake. But we made that decision, in our view, through the lens of humanity and being the kind of company that embraces diversity.”

And with that, NOM announced their boycott:

“Unlike our opponents, we do not target whole companies for the actions of an individual business executive in that company,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “But Starbucks has taken a corporate position in support of redefining marriage for all of society. We will not tolerate an international company attempting to force its misguided values on citizens. The majority of Americans and virtually every consumer in some countries in which Starbucks operates believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. They will not be pleased to learn that their money is being used to advance gay marriage in society.”

Gregoire signs marriage bill

Timothy Kincaid

February 13th, 2012

Governor Chris Gregoire has just signed the marriage bill, adding Washington to the list of US states that provide (to the extent of a state’s power) equality under the law to their gay citizens. Should there be no challenge, this law will come into effect on July June 7.

There will, however, be a challenge. The Family Policy Institute of Washington – with the full support of the Roman Catholic Church – is organizing a petition drive. Should they collect 120,577 valid voter signatures by July June 6, the vote will be stayed until it is either confirmed or rejected by the voters on their November ballot. The odds are pretty good, but not certain, that the signatures can be collected (oddly, they had difficultly in collecting signatures in 2009 to put domestic partnerships up to a vote).

Rep. Walsh leads with her heart

Timothy Kincaid

February 9th, 2012

During the marriage debate, State Representative Maureen Walsh (R – 16th) said that she doesn’t wax eloquently but she is guided by her heart and her mind. And as you’ll see, that can be very powerful.

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Washington House approves marriage bill

Timothy Kincaid

February 8th, 2012

The Washington State House of Representatives has just passed the marriage bill 55-43. Now it goes to Governor Chris Gregoire for signature.

Anti-equality activists have until June 2 to gather 120,000 valid signatures. If they do so, the bill will go to the voters for confirmation or repeal in November. If they do not, the bill becomes law and gay couples in Washington will gain equal status.

But marriage equality is not without it’s difficulties. Now poor devoutly Catholic little ol’ lady wedding cake bakers will have to shoulder the burden of figuring out how to market to the gay community without their priest finding out.

UPDATE:

Three Democrats voted no and two Republicans supported equality.

Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-College Place, said that the bill was a matter of equality.

“Why in the world would we not allow those equal rights to those individuals who are truly committed to each other in life?” she asked. She noted that her daughter told her she was gay a few years ago.

“Nothing’s different,” she said. “She’s still a fabulous human being. And some day, by God, I want to throw a wedding for that kid.”

And that is the true face of equality: Mothers saying, “when are you going to settle down and get married?” and “but you’ve always loved fuchsia and it makes such lovely a bridesmaids color.”

Kidding aside, i love being able to report bipartisan support for equality. It may only be two or three or four in each vote, but it means that we are making strides into the hearts of the people and that our rights and equality are judged less on partisan divisive deal-making or deal-breaking and more by the promises offered in our constitution.

But God I long for the day when “and it got Republican support” will be seen as peculiar and obvious.

A Christian question

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

February 6th, 2012

For many Americans the question of marriage equality circles around what they see as ideal or moral or approved by their Christian faith. It is a question of “what does God want them to do?” And being convinced that homosexuality is a sin, they need go no further to justify their discrimination.

But that approach misses the general theme of Jesus and the early Christian writers. The gospels and epistles don’t discuss what the Roman law should be. The early church didn’t establish agenda to oppress the worship of Diana or to seek dominion over the mountains of entertainment and government. Even their condemnation of unacceptable behavior didn’t extend beyond refusing to fellowship with the offender.

Although one would be hard pressed to see it in the culture or the dogma, Christianity was never supposed to be focused on the flaws of others, real or imagined, or to shape society in a godly manner. Rather it was designed as a personal faith directed inward and evidenced by how it changes the individual, not what he could demand of his neighbor.

The real question that Christians are scripturally directed to ask, the one that would be familiar to the founders of the faith, is “what does God want me to do?” And it is this question that Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) asked herself.

“I have very strong Christian beliefs, and personally I have always said when I accepted the Lord, I became more tolerant of others. I stopped judging people and try to live by the Golden Rule. This is part of my decision. I do not believe it is my role to judge others, regardless of my personal beliefs. It’s not always easy to do that. For me personally, I have always believed in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. That is what I believe, to this day.

“But this issue isn’t about just what I believe. It’s about respecting others, including people who may believe differently than I. It’s about whether everyone has the same opportunities for love and companionship and family and security that I have enjoyed.

I am certain that Sen. Haugen will be soundly condemned by those who will claim that she “went against her faith and her religion.” But her considerations go to the heart of what Christianity was intended to be and, sadly, so seldom is.

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