Love Affair

Finish the Job of Legalizing Gay Marriage by Being Kind

Love Affair

HAUGEN Call her, love her.

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You don't follow local politics obsessively, because you have a fucking life. Fair that. But legalizing same-sex marriage matters to you, because you're gay or your friend is gay or you're just sane. So you'll do something for gay marriage. Call state senator Mary Margaret Haugen right now. You have a cell phone right there, so call her office at 360-786-7618.

Thank Haugen for supporting marriage equality. Why her? It's not that Haugen is a big supporter; in fact, she essentially said she'd vote against enacting gay marriage a couple of weeks ago when several angry constituents confronted her at a community meeting on Whidbey Island. But after getting scores of loving e-mails and phone calls, she changed her mind. On January 23, Haugen announced that she would cast the decisive 25th vote in the senate for a marriage bill. (The house already had the votes.) According to insiders, there was no horse trading or strong-arming to get Haugen's vote—just sincere appeals. So, with her decision, Olympia is going to enshrine the ultimate gay-rights legislation into law.

But Haugen's vote isn't the vote that will ultimately pass marriage equality. At a senate hearing one hour before Haugen made her announcement, piles of angry right-wing Christians told senators that, if they pass this law, there will be hell to pay. Pastor Ken Hutcherson said allowing marriage equality was "bigoted." Gay relationships cause AIDS, one man explained. Another man contended that gay marriage played into the hands of NAMBLA's agenda to legalize pedophilia. Seattle archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who is forcing Catholic churches to advocate against marriage equality, said that gay marriage would deteriorate humanity's ability to procreate.

First off, their angry threats didn't work. (Look at Haugen.) Second, the real vote on this issue isn't the one taken in the next couple of months by lawmakers in Olympia. Joseph Backholm, director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, promised senators that if they approve the bill, Christians will run a referendum and "place it on the ballot."

The real vote on gay marriage will come this November.

No state has ever legalized marriage equality by popular vote. Washington would be the first, and it will require ordinary people convincing hundreds of thousands of Mary Margaret Haugens.

"I don't think this is an issue where you change hearts and minds by pounding on them," says Senator Ed Murray, who courted Haugen's vote for years. Polling in Washington last July found that two-thirds of voters who support marriage equality have had a one-on-one conversation about marriage equality—a personal, kind conversation—that helped form their opinion. Murray continues, "I think it is an issue where you change positions by appealing to their hearts."

And that's where the conservative right is losing—by bashing their enemies.

"I don't believe their attempt to describe us as anti-religious, disease-infested, family-undermining freaks is going to work with the voters of this state," Murray says. And doing the opposite is where progressives will prevail. recommended

This article has been updated since its original publication.


Comments (15) RSS

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Baconcat 1
Great article.

We're a love movement, let's move it along with love :)
Posted by Baconcat on January 25, 2012 at 11:48 AM · Report this
The same is true re: cannabis reform. I will have to watch my rants...
Posted by Aner on January 25, 2012 at 1:32 PM · Report this
OutInBumF 3
The contrast between the ravings of the xtian right, and the pro marriage equality testimonies in Olympia last week was staggering. Nothing but frothing hatred from God's Loving People, versus calm, rational explanations of fairness from our side.
I'm just concerned about all those "I just think 'marriage' is between a man & woman" folks out there, many of whom supported the rejection of R-71, but might not support full marriage equality when it comes to a vote.
Posted by OutInBumF on January 25, 2012 at 11:12 PM · Report this
passionate_jus 4
"No state has ever legalized marriage equality by popular vote. Washington would be the first,"

Well, hopefully it's the second (or third), since Maine (and possibly Maryland) will vote on marriage equality this year, and their voting ends a few hours before Washington's. :)
Posted by passionate_jus on January 27, 2012 at 9:49 AM · Report this
appealing to people's better instincts was definitely Ed Murray's approach, and I applaud it, in the end, you win, and you win in a way that improves the political climate. And the right is wide open to criticism of its methodology in a political "fight" but seriously, wouldn't The Stranger be open to the same criticism - not on the issue itself (that's a no brainer) but on methodology? Suddenly, it's all "love will win the day" here in Slogland? Could'a fooled me.

You can make a case that if you're being oppressed that a vitriolic approach is justified (even if I happen to think it's the lesser approach and usually takes longer to work) but you can't lay claim to having taken a "win them over with love" approach when the history says otherwise.
Posted by myr on January 27, 2012 at 10:07 AM · Report this
I just went to her website to email and thank her, and saw this blurb:

Sen. Haugen being attacked by national a…

So it's worth sending her a note of support, if you can.
Posted by MLM on January 27, 2012 at 11:05 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 7
MMH's statement of profound disinterest in the people who have no business interfering with local Washington policy is inspired.

I wish more politicians had this sort of integrity.

Thank you again, Mary Margaret.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on January 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM · Report this
Thank you, Mary Margaret, and bless you all for supporting same-sex marriages! I just called and left a message!!

Posted by auntie grizelda on January 27, 2012 at 1:48 PM · Report this
I called and left a message. Got a live staffer, too!
Posted by DogBreath on January 27, 2012 at 3:08 PM · Report this
I know it is a little early, but in keeping with the love theme, perhaps we should send her valentines.
Posted by eclecticality on January 27, 2012 at 3:17 PM · Report this
scary tyler moore 11
yes! bona fide valentines you make yourself with construction paper and doilies and glitter.
Posted by scary tyler moore on January 27, 2012 at 3:44 PM · Report this
I was one of the folks who wrote to her when she was still on the fence. I've since written to her to say thanks. I was born on whidbey island and she's been my senator for a long time. my family still lives there. I'm so proud of her and I'm so proud to be from her district! there is so much to be cynical about and its so refreshing to see that democracy and citizenship can still work out sometimes.
Posted by Iheartwhidbey on January 27, 2012 at 4:12 PM · Report this
Brandon Arkell 13
Maybe we should be telling the fence-sitters that the word "marriage" matters because it symbolizes an act on the part of government not to implicitly endorse discriminatory social attitudes. After all, if we're allowed everything but the word, it only means that something is still amiss.
Posted by Brandon Arkell on January 27, 2012 at 8:10 PM · Report this
Brandon Arkell 14
Maybe we should be telling the fence-sitters that the word "marriage" matters because, granting it, the government is not implicitly endorsing discriminatory social attitudes. For as long as we are denied everything but the word, it means that something is still amiss.
Posted by Brandon Arkell on January 27, 2012 at 8:11 PM · Report this
slade 15…

A bill that would make the death sentence mandatory for gays who are "repeat offenders" has been reintroduced in Uganda's parliament.

"The anti-homosexuality bill was re-tabled on the floor of the House today and has been referred to parliament's legal and parliamentary affairs committee for scrutiny," Helen Kawesa, the parliamentary spokesperson, said on Tuesday.

"The committee is expected to examine it and conduct public hearings and then it will report back to the house for a formal debate on the bill," she said.

A small but vocal anti-gay movement, led by several MPs and a group of bishops, said it was determined to reintroduce the proposed legislation.

The bill was originally proposed as a private member's bill in 2009 by David Bahati, a legislator with the ruling National Resistance Movement party, provoking an international outcry.

It brings in the death penalty for anyone caught engaging in homosexual acts for the second time as well as for gay sex where one partner is a minor or has HIV.

It also proposes to criminalise public discussion of homosexuality and would penalise an individual who knowingly rents property to a homosexual.
Posted by slade on February 12, 2012 at 2:49 PM · Report this

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