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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Eyman Writes Back, and Leaves Many Questions Unanswered

Posted by on January 31 at 13:30 PM

Earlier today I posted the beginnings of an email exchange I’m having with Tim Eyman about his efforts to repeal the gay civil rights bill. (After nearly three decades of defeats, the bill was finally passed by the legislature last week and signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire just hours ago.)

You can catch up on our exchange so far here.

And now I bring you the latest from Tim Eyman, along with my new response and questions.

From: Tim Eyman

Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2006 10:46:42 -0800

To: Eli Sanders

You’re entitled to your opinion and you’re entitled to express your views on this issue as you see it, and I don’t think that you’re a bad person or “wrong” because you view this issue differently than we do. But realize the obvious: not everyone thinks like you or believes what you do. Every voter comes at this issue with their own experiences, values, and beliefs. Just because they believe differently than you do doesn’t make them bad, doesn’t make them wrong, it just makes them different.

To which I have responded….

From: Eli Sanders

Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2006 13:23:48 -0800

To: Tim Eyman

Yes, as you say, everyone is entitled to his or her own beliefs. But there is also the issue of what is true, and what is not true. And as you well know, people can be led to believe things that have no relation to the truth — particularly when pre-existing prejudices are involved.

In a democracy, the results of this kind of manipulation can be quite serious (see Iraq, War in). And on this issue, they will be quite serious as well. You want voters in Washington State to decide whether or not to repeal a new law that protects gays and lesbians against discrimination in housing, employment, and financial transactions. But you seem to want voters to believe that the law in question has something to do with “preferential treatment” based on sexual orientation. It doesn’t, and you know it. Why the sophistry? You still haven’t answered my question.

Eyman also wrote:

We simply believe that the voters, and not the politicians, need to make the final decision on this issue. And regardless of how the vote turns out, voters on either side of the vote will at least feel they had some say on the matter. They didn’t get that with the rush-to-judgment vote in Olympia over the past several days.

Public debate is a release valve for people’s passions. Squelching public debate causes many more problems than allowing the voters a chance to participate.

To which I have responded…

Tim, we’re talking about a debate that had been going on in the state legislature for nearly 30 years before last week’s vote. A vote that, you neglect to mention, was conducted by “the people’s” elected representatives. How exactly does what happened in Olympia last week constitute a “rush to judgment” or a “squelching” of public debate?

Eyman also wrote:

The only poll that counts is the one on election day. But it is certainly true that voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 200, an initiative I co-sponsored, in 1998 which prohibited government from granting preferential treatment to anyone based on race, gender, color, ethnicity, or national origin. This measure simply gives voters the opportunity to reaffirm that same principle with regard to sexual orientation or sexual preference.

To which I have responded…

I asked whether you had any data to back up your claim that people in Washington want a state-wide vote on gay civil rights.

You’re telling me that you won’t have the data to prove this claim until election day? And that in the meantime, you’re acting based on the results of a seven-year-old initiative that had nothing to do with repealing discrimination protections for gays and lesbians?


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It's a little maddening that Eyman lays out this Free to Be You & Me bit in your debate ("everybody's entitled to their personal opinion"), but when it comes right down to it—allowing people to be themselves in their personal lives, Eyman wants others to be able to de facto punish them by discriminating with impunity.


i feel the same way as josh. "everybody can have their own opinions ... nobody is wrong ... unless of course you dont agree with my bigoted values, in which case you -are- wrong and i will do everything in my power to fight your right to live, work, et cetera, as an equal."

hey eyman, uhh, i'm not sure if you know this or not, but the people elect representatives to make appropriate and fair decisions on their behalf. thats pretty much the whole point of the legislature as a whole. youknow, to make decisions for us.

Sanders to Eyman: You're intolerant.

Eyman to Sanders: You're intolerant of my intolerance.

also, to refresh everyone's memory on i-200, it was touted by its proponents as "the washington civil rights initiative", and relied entirely on deceptive wording to gain support. the ballot said i-200 would "(prohibit government) from discriminating or granting preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in public employment, education, and contracting". tricky wording for an initiative that ended affirmative action in washington state.

Notice that Eyman isn't clamoring to "let the public decide" on SB 5014, creating the "keep kids safe" license plate series, or SB 5204, modifying the chattel lien process, or SB 6816, allowing county cemetery districts to include areas within cities and town, or even SB 6056, certifying animal massage therapists.

No, Eyman only cares about state government when it threatens his driving privileges or his sexuality.

What an embarrassment to straight people everywhere. Or should that be "straight" people -- Eyman looks pretty closeted to me.

Thank you Sigourney Beaver!!!

You can't tolerate intolerance. These types say the most outrageous things (accusing supporters of this bill of being intolerant) that by the time you pick-up your jaw off the floor, the camera has cut away.

A response is needed whenever right-wing types claim that gays and their supporters are intolerant.

I hate to equate it to the playground, but in this case it fits: they started it first.


P.S.- By the way, who else thinks it's strange that with this initiative we're asking the potential discriminators ("the people") to repeal this law? It's a conflict of interest. How illogical. Equal rights aren't a popularity contest.

And please: don't tell me the law isn't needed. Since when are these people the champions of repealing unnecessary laws? I have a shopping cart full I could share with them. Why does this one get moved to the front of the line? Hmmm. Inititiatives/referendums cost $1-$2 million to run. It's all so telling. Their actions speak so loud I can't hear what they're saying.

The fact that someone would try to repeal this law is evidence it's needed.


Can we front a referendum to overturn the 'preferential treatment' afforded by the civil rights bill to people of any particular religion? I'm pretty sure you could take any of tim's statements and replace 'sexual preference' with 'religious preference' and it'd be just as .. well... not valid, but...

And no, I don't think religious preference should be removed. Or sexual preference. I'm just thinking that this kind of referendum would make people realize how stupid the other one is.

When it comes to the civil rights of any citizen, democracy must be limited from the tyranny of the majority. Such a limited democracy would exclude civil rights having to be granted by a majority vote. Gays have long struggeled to do away with stereotypes and the constant moral certitude of right-wing wackos. Had we, along with other marginalized groups in society, been treated fairly and equally under Federal and State Constitutions to begin with, the argument for civil rights would never have been an issue. Addtionally, we would not have had to make it an issue up for a vote in the hands of politicians. But alas, here we are again after all these years. Still struggling! Puritanism is alive and well in America when being Gay is still considered a sexual lifestyle and nothing more.

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