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Posts published in “Day: July 26, 2006”

Reaching back

In our earlier post on the Washington Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision we focused on the political and some of the legal aspects of the decision, but we didn't get much into the substance of it.

So what are people thinking? We'll refer you a thread in today's Spokesman-Review Huckleberries, where you'll see a pretty wide range of opinion.

Blog-runner Dave Oliveria, self-described as a Christian conservative, said that he approved of the ruling. Readers weighed in pro and con, with this bit of commentary from the paper's editor, Steve Smith:

"As always, love the thread. But I can't help but comment on the 'time immemorial' point. From time immemorial, marriage has included multiple-spouse arrangements (and still does in many cultures) has acknowledged gay unions (Egypt, Greece, Rome), has sanctified child abuse (eight-year-old brides for 80-year-old men), has been based on economics, politics and convenience. For most of western history, marriage was a sacrmanet that deprived women of rights, property and pesonal security with efforts to change that relationshiop labeled heresy (presumably because woman's role was so defined for time immemorial). For American evangelicals who tend to be most opposed to gay marriage, time immemorial really means time as measured by their cultural clock. I just think we need to be honest about that."

Oliveria responded, "I was thinking Adam and Eve here, unless the snake was involved in a menage a trois."

Question: Whoever said Adam and Eve were married? The Bible doesn't. And if you say God performed the ceremony, who were the witnesses?

Front-paging ID-1

The big jump up and shout news this week from the backers of Idaho 1st House district Democrat Larry Grant comes to this: His opponent, Republican Bill Sali, just received a pile of money from the Republican Retain Our Majority Program (ROMP) fund.

The rationale is cleanly put by Jonathan Singer on the MyDD Democratic blog: "To this point, I knew that House Republicans were concerned about the possibility that they would lose control of the chamber. Yet I had no idea that they were in such a state of panic that they would divert hundreds of thousands of dollars to Idaho, one of just two states in which a majority of residents approve of President Bush; into a district in which President Bush received more than two-thirds of the vote; for a candidate who has already raised more than $500,000 - especially at a time when the NRCC is trailing the DCCC in cash-on-hand."

Now. Flip over to Congressional Quarterly (yeah, right, registration required), as solid a reporter of congressional politics as you will find anywhere, and you'll find the Idaho 1st listed as "safe Republican." (We discussed it with them last week.)

The view here is that CQ is closer to the mark. We've noted before a tendency among some Democrats to underestimate their difficulties in this race.

Sali did raise over a half-mill for his primary - but that's just it, he raised it for his primary, a notably difficult primary, and now he and his backers have to go back to the well. Grant has raised about half as much, but because he had no serious primary contest, he has relatively more money on hand. Sali's well-heeled primary backers - Club for Growth and its close allies - will not let him go unfunded in the general. Funds get shifted around in the giant D.C. money pot. And so here we are. We're unconvinced the ROMP money is a big deal. We're not seeing evidence of "panic."

However. In discussing the rating of the race with CQ, we suggested (not entirely facetiously) adding an asterisk to the "safe Republican" designation. Odds may favor Republican retention of the seat, but enough of what you might call "free radicals" are floating around to keep this race alive, and even turning it around. We may have hit a useful point for discussing some of them. (more…)

Off the table

The Washington Supreme Court has ruled: The subject of same-sex marriage will not be a huge factor in the campaigns of this year's general election in Washington and beyond.

Washington courtsThat sure looks like the immediate effect of Heather Anderson v. King County, in which the court held that the Washington Legislature is constitutionally able to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples. That is what the Legislature sought to do in 1998 with passage of its version of the Defense of Marriage Act; the constitutionality of the measure was challenged in court, and lower courts said it was unconstitutional.

That's the bottom line. The decision rambles on quite a bit from there, not surprising since the justices took well over a year since the oral arguments to reach a decision which led to six separate opinions from the court. The key statement, near the top of the decision, reads like this:

The two cases before us require us to decide whether the legislature has the power to limit marriage in Washington State to opposite-sex couples. The state constitution and controlling case law compel us to answer "yes," and we therefore reverse the trial courts.
In reaching this conclusion, we have engaged in an exhaustive constitutional inquiry and have deferred to the legislative branch as required by our tri-partite form of government. Our decision accords with the substantial weight of authority from courts considering similar constitutional claims. We see no reason, however, why the legislature or the people acting through the initiative process would be foreclosed from extending the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples in Washington. It is important to note that the court's role is limited to determining the constitutionality of DOMA and that our decision is not based on an independent determination of what we believe the law should be.

That opens a political door on same-sex marriage: The legislature could always reverse DOMA and that reversal would, likewise, be constitutional. And you can expect candidates will be asked about it in the months ahead. (more…)