Sunday, January 15, 2006

Schoolyard Taunts in Olympia

Democrats and elected judges had best turn right if they want to keep their jobs, according to the head of the Faith & Freedom Network in Washington State. FFN Chairman Joseph B. Fuiten commissioned a seven-question survey that he thinks will cow decision makers in his state as they consider same-sex marriage.

Puffiness Note: Fuiten refers to himself as Dr. Joseph B. Fuiten. He is neither physician nor academic. That is a ministerial doctorate from the Northwest Graduate School of Ministry, now the Bakke Graduate University of Ministry, with its classroom in Seattle's First Presbyterian Church. Don't look for serious scholarship in his analysis.

Note: This group marginalizes itself by sticking to the line that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, which can be cured. Even in largely conservative Washington State, it is not the political source of record.

In an interview with the Olympian, Fuiten said the poll by Elway Research proved that voters were anti-SSM. He claims 55% oppose SSM and 35% favor it.

"I think a person who is thinking about it would realize there is a political consequence to it," he remarked.

The State Supreme Court there is elected. It should consider a Defense of Marriage Act's constitutionality in March, according to Chief Justice Gerry Alexander. He didn't mind the implied threat from Fuiten, saying, "People try to do that all the time. It's a democracy and people can say anything they want. We make decisions in the case based on the facts of the case."

He also said that in his experience people vote a judge out for personal behavior and not for a single decision from the bench. "I haven't found the public takes revenge on a judge for their decisions," he added.

Equal Rights Washington Executive Director Frances Dunaway said the state's high court has a purpose "to protect the rights of minorities. She noted that in Massachusetts people adjusted to the Supreme Judicial Court's finding that SSM is the law of the commonwealth. "People saw their family members, neighbors and friends were getting married, and society was not harmed."

Meanwhile, Washington looks like it will do the Maine thing and outlaw discrimination in basic areas, such as housing, against homosexuals. That really ought to get Fuiten fulminating.

From our perspective, the FFN's tactic to push plebiscites on minority rights is typical of such groups that hide their bigotry behind a feigned democracy. This is that issue about muddling representative democracy with a vote when the laws don't fit your emotional needs. It diverts ballot initiatives far from their intended purpose.

Two questions and results in the poll of 405 people were:

Several other states and countries have decided the issue of gay marriage. Which of the following three methods - used in other states and countries - do you favor to decide the issue of gay marriage here in Washington State

  • A court order by the Supreme Court…14
  • A law passed by the legislature…16
  • A vote of the people…60
  • [Don't know or no answer}…11

Of these three which is the least acceptable to you?

  • A court order by the Supreme Court…49
  • A law passed by the legislature…21
  • A vote of the people…20
  • [Don't know or no answer}…11
In the family of nations, the U.S. remains right leaning. Massachusetts and Vermont though have been slowly changing minds. Each has a multi-year history of SSM or civil unions. Both have extremely low divorce rates.

If there is an argument and conclusion here, it would be that SSM strengthens marriage. At at time when the rest of the nation is seeing a long-term (far predating SSM) decline in marriage and increase in divorce, that should be welcome news to traditionalists.


Anonymous said...

I take issue with your characterization of WA as a "largely conservative state." In fact, we are quite progressive politcally. Our governor, both senators, 6/9 representatives, and 4/7 of the other partisian statewide positions are all dems. Further, our governor and both senators are women, something I don't believe you can say of any other state.


massmarrier said...

Those are some interesting stat you picked. An analysis of Washington State would certainly include its progressive politics pre-WWII. Unfortunately, it would have to include a legacy of xenophobia, racism, isolationism, and reaction to social change.

Lately, polls have almost paralleled the nation as a whole, with the well-educated, heavily populated Puget Sound ending up giving your moderate Democrats the edge. As historian Walter Crowley told the Dem Caucus a couple of year ago, "The major urban centers on the eastern and western edges of the state tend to be more liberal than the rural, sparsely populated districts in between. Density has generally trumped acreage to elect Democrats and the occasional progressive Republican -- which are very rare today, if not quite extinct."

Yet, like New Hampshire and Maine, the voters may elet the Dems (not too liberal, please), and then keep social change sloooow. The gay-rights issue is a good example and one on the table.