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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cantwell on Gay Marriage (not into it), Hezbollah, WalMart, and Snakes on a Plane.

Posted by on August 20 at 13:40 PM

Last month, I drove 3 hours east (to Moses Lake, WA) to watch Mike McGavick on the campaign trail.

Yesterday, I drove two-and-a-half hours south (to Woodland, WA) to watch Maria Cantwell on the campaign trail. Woodland is a small logging town about twenty minutes north of Vancouver, WA.

I pulled into town off exit 21 from I-5 around 1pm and landed at a strip mall on the main drag, Goerig Street. Cantwell was scheduled to speak across the street at Horseshoe Lake Park, a pretty beachfront park with a colorful playground, happy sunbathers, a gazebo, and a large picnic shelter—all hidden behind a towering batch of trees. First thing I did was get some food at the Eager Beaver Drive In, a burger shack in the strip mall parking lot.

“Hey,” I asked a curly haired blonde woman in blue jean shorts and a tank top with a tattoo stamped on her chest. (She was leaning into the screened burger shack window, flirting with a younger blonde, bearded guy working the grill.) “Washington’s U.S. Senator, Maria Cantwell, is doing a campaign event across the street later today,” I said. “I’m from a newspaper in Seattle, and I’m going to interview the Senator. What should I ask her?”

“I don’t know anything about her. Who is she? I don’t know,” the woman said.

The burger guy, in an apron and white tee shirt, chimed in: “Ask her what she’s going to do about all the tweakers living near my house.”

The woman laughed and then, to the chagrin of the burger guy’s co-workers, continued chatting away. She was adding burger guy’s cell phone number into her phone.

I jumped in again: “So, what kind of town is this? What’s the economy?”

The woman: “Logging.”
Burger guy: “It used to be a logging town. Now it’s a tweaker town.”

The Cantwell event didn’t start until 2pm, so I stopped a few people in the hot parking lot to ask them what I should ask Cantwell. Most everybody was coming in and out of Big Deals, the anchor discount store along this strip of guitar shops, tattoo parlors, manicure shops, a massage center (Serendipity Massage), and a dentist’s office.

The response from everybody—from the tiny white-haired old lady getting out of her silver Honda LX to the 50-something guy hauling a fan across the parking lot to his truck—was this: They didn’t know who Cantwell was, and they had nothing to ask her.

I walked across the street to the park. I asked an older guy pushing a little girl on a swing (“No comment.”) I asked a family eating sandwiches and cheetos at one of the red picnic tables. (“Don’t know anything about her.”) Nobody had anything to ask Cantwell.

Finally, I found two 50-something women sunbathing on straw mats, dressed in flowery green bathing suits. “Is she a Democrat?” they wanted to know. Yes.

The derisive follow-up: “Is she a liberal?”

I said that Cantwell was a liberal, but she voted for the war.
“Well, that’s good.”

“Where is she on abortion?” one of the woman, her name was Luella Viollette, asked.

She’s pro-choice.

“Well, then you should ask her what makes her believe that a fetus is not a human being,” Viollette said. “How do we have the right to murder children? It’s God’s choice, not our choice. We’re Christians.” The women thanked me for taking the time to talk to them.

I didn’t get a chance to put Viollette’s question to Cantwell. The Senator was running behind schedule, and my time with her was rushed. I got about three minutes at the end of the event as she walked with her entourage back to her car. (I’ll say this: Cantwell has a rep for being uptight. But she was relaxed. In a good mood. Comfortable. At the picnic shelter she had schmoozed the crowd with ease. My sense was more that her entourage is uptight. Prior to the event, a flummoxed woman in a Cantwell staff shirt named Karin appeared to be having a meltdown over logistics.)

Anyway: I asked Cantwell about the war—to reconcile all her positions. I asked her if she was willing to censure Bush in the wake of the NSA ruling. I asked her about Frank Blethen and the estate tax.

I’ll file a piece on all this in the upcoming Stranger, but I do want to Slog a brief outtake from the brief interview.

Realizing there wasn’t going to be time for a real Q&A, I went to Plan B. I played that pop psychology quiz game with Cantwell…where I would say something, and she had to say the first thing that came to her mind.

JF: I’m going to say something, and you’re going to say the first thing that comes to your mind. MC: Okay JF:WalMart? MC: Ucchhhhh. Can you write that? JF: Mark Wilson? MC: Good Guy. JF: Hezbollah? MC: Ouch. Need to change this. Out of control. JF: Mel Gibson? MC: Needs help. JF: CAFTA? MC: Better policy for labor. JF: Ummm… MC: Not that.. but we need better policies for labor. JF: But you voted for it. MC: Yeah. Listen, it was very good for the farmers of our state… taxes were already lifted on a lot of the products that were coming into our country. What this did is lift some of the tariffs on our products going into their countries. Matt Butler (Cantwell campaign staffer): Last one, Josh. JF: Snakes on a Plane? MC: I’m not watching that movie. JF: Last thing. On the DOMA ruling from Washington’s Supreme Court. Good ruling? Bad ruling? Basically, do you support gay marriage? MC: I support civil unions.

CommentsRSS icon

What's a tweaker?

A meth user.

Regarding the Civil Unions vs. actual Gay Marriage thing.

I was just talking to someone the other day about this. Times have changed a lot. 10 years ago, if you'd have asked, probably less than 1 out of 100 gay people would ever have thought that actual full gay marriage would ever happen in our lifetimes. Most would have been thrilled with even the possibility of civil unions, even if that was not quite the same thing.

Now, in progressive places like Seattle, we poo-poo civil unions. We are beginning to recognize that it's like the "separate but equal" policies. It isn't the same. Canada has gay marriage. Massachusetts has gay marriage (at least for now). Now that we know it is a real possibility, that is what we demand. But really, this is a fairly recent attitude. Not everyone has caught up.

Politically, you could argue that civil unions are more likely to be passed by the legislature than full gay marriage, that civil unions would be easier for the public to swallow. Then use that as a stepping stone, and later push for full marriage. Frankly, I don't know if that is a realistic or acceptable strategy or not. Yes, yes, full marriage rights are really the only way to be completely equal. But since the court tossed it out, we must either go to the legislature or to a public initiative. It seems like there is a zero chance of either succeeding in the current political climate.

So going back to my original thought, 10 years ago, we'd have been thrilled if Cantwell had stated that she supports civil unions. Sure, I'd have been happier if she'd have supported full gay marriage, but I'm not willing to chastise her too harshly at this point for not quite having caught up.

I never understood _The Stranger's_ derision of Civil Unions. The editorial staff & writers are staunchly atheist, continually deriding all those who are religious, _especially_ the religious gays & lesbians. So what's the beef? Marrying is a _religious_ act. Atheists believe in The State. If The State grants you the rights of the married (civil unions), what's the problem?

That CAFTA answer was just awful. What a fraud she is.

Next time try the truth serum:

Wal-Mart: Should not be held accountable.

Mark Wilson: Cheap date.

Hezbollah: Whatever Israel says.

Mel Gibson: Needs help.

CAFTA: Fuck the environment, fuck labor, bring the trickle down justice!

Snakes on a Plane: I'm not going to motherfucking watch that motherfucking movie.

Gay Marriage: I don't have the courage to support it, and I'll leave the issue to the courts.

I have the same derision of civil unions as the next fag (married first in Portland, then in BC), but I'm terribly pragmatic. I was so relieved when the WA Supreme Court ruled against gay marriage, particularly by the close margin. It means that the right has less red meat to stir up the base this election. And quite frankly, I think giving the answer, "I support civil unions," is the perfect response. She shores up her liberal credential by speaking for gay rights, but at the same time, she doesn't touch that hotbutton word "marriage," again, taking a tool away from the right. Let's get her reelected. That'll give her six more years in which the gay rights movement will continue to move forward, and six more years of actual gay marriages throughout Massachusetts, Canada, and Europe. Then, with gay marriage a much less controversial idea, she can say, "Hey, full marriage rights for all."

Queequeg, the beef is that, religious or not, marriage is recognized by the state and can even be performed by the state. If we want to be honest about it, the state shouldn't recognized ANYONE's marriage and should require civil unions for all the benefits that come with marriage. Marrige should rightly be left to religious institutions while civil unions stay in the realm of the state.

Yeah, I don't see how "I support civil unions" is the same as "Gay Marriage (Not Into It.)" It may be an evasive answer, but it would still seem to put her on the side of some kind of legally-supported status for gay couples.

I'm with the people who say ALL marriages, straight or gay, should be considered "civil unions," but I can say that because I'm not running for office. You just have to consider the response of Miss "abortion=baby murder" to see the problem with taking a position like that.

Re "times have changed" -- Six years ago, with a razor-close election on the line and nothing close to happening on the gay marriage front, Cantwell had a simply one-word answer to the gay marriage question: "Yes".

Left interviewer Dave Ross with his mouth hagning open. "Do you, uh, do you want to elaborate on that?".

If the 2006 answer is "I support civil unions", it's the art of the possible.

what the fuck does she have against snakes on a plane??? seriously, what crawled up her ass and died?

Ugh. The attitude of those people, "we don't know nuthin', an' we're proud of it!" - one of the reasons I fled that corner of the state as fast as my college scholarship would take me.

Charles, I completely agree w/ you in what should be done. The State stepped in a long time ago, and installed many priveledges with marriage (tax breaks, etc.) Now, if the State can grant those same priveledges to the LGBT crowd, and call it something different, "Civil Unions," then what's the beef?

A Pop Psychology quiz?

Josh, you hit a low point when you compared your self to Walter Cronkhite.

You went lower on this one.

The P-I will never hire you.

The beef is this: Why should law-abiding, tax-paying gay people be second class citizens? Marriage not only has hundreds of special rights associated with it, but it also has a special social class associated with it. Why shouldn't gay people have the same access to those rights and social status?

Comte, the attitude of those people is, I'd reckon, the attitude of the majority of the country. Hence, low voter turnout an out of control government with no accountability. Most people just don't give a crap, or if they do, it's a knee-jerk reaction to something they don't really understand or are ill-informed about.

More Beef: At best, civil unions could maybe grant all of the rights that marriage grants... within the state of Washington. It would have no bearing beyond the state borders, and would have no effect on any federal laws, including federal tax laws. In they eyes of the federal government and the IRS, my lifelong partner is, and always will be, nothing more than a room mate. Civil unions won't change that. Marriage would.

Red State types that work at hamburger shacks in Easter Washington are idiots. If they're not tweekers, their neighbors are.
Seattle is an island of educated, cultured people sorrounded by red state rednecks.

Christians won't let women get abortions, and Jews believe god wants Rabbis to suck the blood of baby cocks. All religion is a farce.

But even New York Public health can't stop religious idiots -

Can'twell will be at the Tractor Tavern tonite for a fund-raiser.

It's tonight? Dang, got an exec board meeting ...

DOMA means that individual state gay-marriage doesn't give any of the federal rights and privileges. No gay couple, married or not, can jointly file a federal income tax return, or be officially recognized by any federal government branch.

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