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June 5, 2006

Gov. Gregoire on Gay Marriage, Gay Rights

Posted by David Postman at 10:54 AM

Gov. Christine Gregoire, anticipating signatures coming this week for the referendum that would repeal the gay rights law, said at a press conference this morning that voters were misled and signed the petitions thinking it had something to do with gay marriage.

I have no doubt some people thought that, and some petition gatherers suggested that. But it is a universal refrain for a politician on the other side of an initiative or referendum to say the voters didn't know what they were doing. All sides have done it, and when an election goes their way they praise the wisdom of the voters and when it doesn't the voters were misled or confused.

(UPDATE: Of course, this doesn't mean that voters aren't misled. Eyman just said at his appearance in Olympia that his campaign is about gay marriage. The law his measure would repeal is not about gay marriage and even in Eyman's telling it is a convoluted connection. He is clearly trying to sell the referendum as something that resonates with voters concerned about gay marriage. Still, it is the poor voter who often is said to have been confused and misled by what they signed or voted on. We heard it with Eyman's I-695, when Democrats said voters understood the part about cutting taxes but not about requiring public votes for tax increases.)

Gregoire also reprimanded Republicans in Congress for debating a ban on gay marriage. She points out that no one thinks the bill will pass and said it was coming up only because this is an election year. She also said gay marriage is "fundamentally ... an issue that ought to be left to the state." The state Supreme Court is expected to rule any day on a case that could determine whether gay marriage is legal in Washington state.

That prompted me to ask the governor, "What's your position on gay marriage? The state may have to wrestle with it soon."

Gregoire: "Yes, and then I will discuss it. I'm not going to get engaged in this any more than I was during the session. And I can see your looks at me and I have not changed my position. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I will await the Washington State Supreme Court."

Question: "I thought during the campaign you didn't want to talk about it because you were still attorney general."

Gregoire: "I just don't think you ought to get involved in an issue that is squarely before the state Supreme Court. Here's what I'm most concerned about. .... I don't want this issue to divide us. That's why I'm so offended by what's going on in Congress. To use a human rights issue and to have it divide this country when we have got very pressing problems that we need to be dealing with. That's what I'm offended by. So I don't want to talk about this issue right now. ..."

Question: "After the state Supreme Court acts you'll tell us?"

Gregoire: "I will."

The governor said she didn't think the court decision would come before the November elections.

During her gubernatorial campaign in March 2004, Gregoire said, "I do not believe that Washington state is ready to support gay marriage."

In September 2004 she said in a Seattle Times questionnaire: "We are in litigation on this issue right now in two counties. In my role as attorney general, I am defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Because of this, I can't express my personal opinion on the issue; indeed, I have already had my role in the case challenged by some legislators."

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