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June 6, 2006

Eyman Fails, Ticks Off the Churches

Posted by David Postman at 5:41 PM


Tim Eyman's failure to collect enough signatures to force a public vote on Washington's gay rights law has had one impact, and could have another. We'll see if this cements the law for a time, now that the state's initiative maven and a coalition of powerful churches failed to convince enough people that the new law should be repealed.

But the failure already has created a serious rift between Eyman and the churches and social conservatives who were banking on him to do the mechanics of their anti-gay rights efforts. Eyman has not had much luck with social issues. His first initiative was the anti-affirmative action I-200, which after his failed leadership was successfully pushed by talk show host John Carlson, himself a successful initiative sponsor.

Eyman announced the number of signatures he collected for Referendum 65 this afternoon with great drama. He did some math, shook his head, he sighed some big sighs and said oh so slowly: "We'd like to announce ... that ... we have successfully ... gathered ... 105,103 signatures for the Referendum 65 campaign."

He needed 112,440 valid signatures of registered voters.

Watching the event from just outside the scrum of reporters was Gary Randall, president of the Faith and Freedom Network, and his field director, John Russell. The group was one of the conservative Christian organizations that were working with Eyman to collect signatures at churches.

"This is the first number we've heard," Russell said, as Eyman made a celebration out of his defeat, sipping sparking cider from paper cups with his co-sponsors, Mike and Jack Fagan, and saying that the signature drive was "an enormously positive accomplishment."

Not for the Christians and social conservatives. Randall said that a "high percentage of the resources" his group spent in the last three months went to collecting signatures. But, Randall said, they were kept in the dark.

Eyman picked up some petitions from the churches. Others were sent directly to the secretary of state's office, which Eyman also collected prior to today. Randall said there was an evolution of answers when Eyman was pressed for information on the progress of the petition drive.

"At first he said, 'I don't tell anyone, that's part of my method,' and then he said later, 'I don't really know. I'm purposely keeping myself out of the loop,' or something to that effect. And then he didn't return calls."

Eyman's partners wore T-shirts promoting a tax-cutting initiative they're pushing this year. Randall said there have been questions about whether Eyman was using the anti-gay rights measure as a way to promote the tax-cut initiative. Yesterday, when Eyman duped reporters into coming to a news conference, he and the Fagans talked more about the tax initiative than they did about the gay-rights referendum.

If the churches try again to repeal the gay-rights law they'll do it without Eyman, Randall said.

Before Eyman's announcement, Randall was worried about what would happen. Not so much that Eyman would fall short, but that he would embarrass the effort. When a helicopter flew over, Randall worried Eyman might skydive into the press conference. He thought Eyman might come in costume. "I just prayed it wouldn't be worse than Darth Vader today." Eyman dressed as the Star Wars character at yesterday's news conference.

And it was not lost on Randall that today is the day that carries the mark of the beast, and he was left wishing the deadline for signatures happened either Monday or Wednesday:

"My life has been as a pastor and a theologian and I do believe in 666 and I do believe in the Bible and I don't know what it has to do with today, probably nothing. But in this case I have no idea. But I wish it would have been yesterday or tomorrow."

I'd like to hear what people on both sides of this issue think will happen now. Will there be another effort next year? Is there something to be done by supporters of the gay-rights bill to publicize what it does and does not really mean?

This is among the most passionate issues, so please let's keep the tone of the comments as civil as they've generally been so far.

ADD:

The gay rights bill becomes law tomorrow. Here's what Gov. Gregoire said in a statement:

"Tomorrow will be a proud day in Washington. In January, Washington took an affirmative stand to say to gay and lesbian individuals, moms and dads, sons and daughters, neighbors, co-workers and friends that, like all other people, they are free to work in an environment absent discrimination. Tomorrow our words become law."

Here's what some others are saying:

Horsesass, the original anti-Eyman

The Stranger answers the Prayer Warrior UPDATE, and has the answer to this question that Randall said he didn't want to be asked:

If the members of the religious right in Washington can't be bothered to sign a petition when they're told that signing will help prevent gay marriage from being legalized here, why should legislators be so worried about backlash from people of faith if they come out in favor of gay marriage?

Orbusmax links back to me, but boy the Orb's headline is Drudge-licious!

The Spokesman Review's Eye on Olympia

Thurston Pundits did a Monday post worth reading but I haven't seen an update yet.

Here's the statement from Barbara Green, executive director of Equal Rights Washington, which opposed Eyman's referendum.


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Eyman Pushes Deadline for Anti-Gay Rights Measure

Posted by David Postman at 3:49 PM

UPDATE: Tim Eyman just announced that the signature-gathering effort fell short. There will be no public vote on whether to repeal the gay rights bill.

Tim Eyman was supposed to turn in his petitions for Referendum 65 today at 4 p.m. But he's been calling reporters in the past few minutes to say the petitions won't arrive until close to 5 p.m. And 5 p.m. is the deadline. He's cutting it close. His partner Mike Fagan just flew into Sea-Tac with more petitions.

Wondering what happens if, say, bad traffic keeps them from meeting the deadline? It has happened before.

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What Will Leno Say Now?

Posted by David Postman at 1:12 PM

Today is the last day that it is legal in Washington state to have sex with animals. Tomorrow is the effective date for SB 6417, "Prohibiting sexual conduct or sexual contact with an animal."

In one of the stranger legislative efforts in recent years, a bill outlawing bestiality was approved by this year's Legislature. The move came after a man died after having sex with a horse and legislators realized the act was not illegal.

The bill's prime sponsor, Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, said it was surprisingly difficult to get the bill passed. Not because people were opposed to the bestiality ban, but because the issue had such a high profile "it would upstage everything."

"This was a big issue in the fact that it was so different, so big in fact that Rush Limbaugh talked about it over a series of days. It was so so big that both Jay Leno and David Letterman talked about it over days. But it was something we didn't want to acknowledge so we pretended it didn't exist."

The bill moved quicker out of the Senate than the House, and Roach, who has been insistent in reminding people the act in question took place outside Enumclaw not in Enumclaw, said the bill would have moved faster in the House "but downtown Seattle had a hard time wanting the bill."

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Is there a Democratic Generation Gap?

Posted by David Postman at 8:03 AM

At last weekend's Democratic state convention there was a proposal, largely of interest only to delegates, that would give the Young Democrats organization a second vote on the state central committee. But what was interesting was that during the debate, one delegate — comfortably outside the 36-year-old age limit for the Young Democrats — expressed frustration that the group's members weren't taking a more active role opposing the war in Iraq.

I hadn't really noticed it before that: The anti-war forces were mostly older delegates, boomers, gray-beards, Vietnam-era protesters, folks whose Birkenstock's likely served orthopedic needs. Adding to the appearance of a generational split is that the Young Democrats, an official arm of the party, has endorsed Maria Cantwell for re-election, while some of the most vocal anti-war activists in the party are backing Mark Wilson and to a lesser extent Hong Tran.

Since returning from Yakima, I've asked a few people who were there if they see a generation gap.

"What I see from so many of the young folks is a desire to be accepted by the party machine and not want to be seen rocking the boat," said Chad Shue. He was a delegate from Snohomish County and is a Wilson backer.

I believe there is a real disappointment that young people are not as invested in the anti-war movement as is my generation. This is most likely due to the absence of a draft and the distance from the Vietnam experience.

Shue is 53 and an old-school war protester. He calls himself a Bobby Kennedy Democrat, signs his e-mails "peace" and closes with a John Lennon quote. He lays some of the blame for a generational split on John Kerry. He says that in 2004 if Kerry had "actually spoken out against the invasion of Iraq (and certainly not voted for it)" young people might have been inspired by his experience as a leading opponent of the Vietnam War.

Amy Ockerlander, 28, the press secretary for the Young Democrats, said she doesn't think there is a generational split. She told me about some high-profile anti-war activities of some YD members and said, "I think most people agree we want our troops home."

She said the organization endorsed Cantwell, as well as 8th District candidate Darcy Burner, because those candidates reflect their values on a host of issues, including port security and student loans. While Wilson supporters cheered his criticism of the 9-11 Commission, Ockerlander said Young Democrats want to see the commission's security recommendations implemented.

"Our tactics are different than the older generation but our feelings are similar," she said. Ockerlander, who works for the Legislature, said she disagrees with those in the party who have been pushing Cantwell to make some statement of public regret for her war vote:

I don't necessarily feel she needs to say the war was a mistake. She didn't make that decision to go to war, the president did. ... She voted for authorization of force as a last resort. The president made that decision.

River Curtis-Stanley, 46, and her husband attended the convention as delegates from Kitsap County. She supports Wilson. She said in comments posted here after the convention, "He doesn't have a snowball's chance in Hell of winning the primary, but we do think he's the better, more responsive, and more progressive candidate." In an e-mail later, she told me that Young Democrats seem to be taking their cues on the war from party leaders, like Cantwell.

During the convention, the greatest focus of the Young Democrats was their charter proposal (which passed), not issues of the day. Most of the focus our local YDs have is on assisting candidates in fundraising and other election-related activities, not on driving issues. These are our future Democratic Party leaders, and it makes me fear for the future of the Democratic Party. Yes, we need to elect candidates, and lots of them, but we also need to stand forth as a true opposition party at every level, from the grassroots on up. That's not happening.

I'd like to hear from more Young Democrats. Is there something keeping you from joining the older anti-war activists in your party? Is it about tactics and their vocal opposition to Cantwell? Perhaps more than the war, this is, like so much of internal party debate, about pragmatism vs. idealism.

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