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Friday, April 26, 2013

Office of Anti-Gay Bill Sponsor Reportedly Argues That "Gay People Can Just Grow Their Own Food" If Stores Won't Serve Them

Posted by on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 1:39 PM

When Slog reader Jay Castro called state senator Mike Hewitt's (R-Walla Walla) office this morning to ask about Senator Hewitt's co-sponsorship of SB 5927, a bill that would amend our anti-discrimination laws to allow people to discriminate against gays and lesbians because of their "sincerely held religious beliefs," Castro says he was hit with a surprising response: Gay people should be prepared to fend for themselves.

Castro's aware that this bill isn't likely to pass but he tells me, "Regardless of if it's just a publicity stunt, it's my livelihood and my life that's on the line." He added: "I fought very hard for gay rights in Spokane in the '90s, as a kid," and he was horrified to wake up to headlines about this bill. So he spent his morning calling its sponsors to let them know. During the phone calls, he says he asked staffers some variation of the question "What are rural gays supposed to do if the only gas station or grocery store for miles won't sell them gas and food?"

Castro says the staffer at Hewitt's office surprised him with the answer "Well, gay people can just grow their own food." When Castro then asked the male staffer his name, he refused to identify himself, reportedly responding, "I don't have to tell you that," then, "Don't call here again," and hanging up the phone. This happened at around 11:00 this morning.

About an hour after Castro's call, I called Hewitt's office myself to find out if—and more importantly why—government staffers are telling gay people to "grow their own food" if straight Christians don't want to sell them groceries. My conversation was brief, to say the least. When I asked about the bill, the male staffer who answered the phone immediately directed me to a spokesperson for the state Republicans. When I clarified that I was calling to ask about Hewitt's sponsorship of the bill in particular, he said he had no comment.

Then I asked him about the conversation Castro had just had with someone from that office. Did he have any comment on that? "I don't know about that," he said, and hung up the phone. When I called back, someone picked up the phone and then hung it up again. Same thing when I called from another number.

Weird! I guess their phone's broken? Maybe you feel like testing it out yourself: 360-786-7630.

Like I said, this bill ain't gonna pass—because the votes aren't there and because holy shit this bill is backwards and ridiculous—so we didn't make much hay of it on Slog. It's hateful and embarrassing, but it functions more as a roll call of the senators who'd sponsor an awful, bigoted bill like this, and that's helpful, at least.

But confidential to Hewitt's office: If you care to call me back and politely explain your stance, I almost guarantee I won't hang up on you.

 

Comments (49) RSS

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seatackled 1
You know what? I do not want my tax dollars paying for this guy's office rent, communications services, staff, and salary.
Posted by seatackled on April 26, 2013 at 1:45 PM · Report this
Baconcat 2
Why are they directing callers to the state party offices? Is this bill a party-backed stunt?
Posted by Baconcat on April 26, 2013 at 1:46 PM · Report this
treacle 3
Great to see that state representatives are being so responsive to their constituents! Go "all men are created equal"! WINNING!
Posted by treacle on April 26, 2013 at 1:48 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 4
Mike Hewitt: You're On Your Own

Yes, that will do nicely for a slogan if someone wants to run against him in the next election.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on April 26, 2013 at 1:52 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 5
I have a sincerely held religious belief that most Republican politicians think their constituents are morons.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay http://www.danlangdon.com on April 26, 2013 at 1:53 PM · Report this
6
I agree, @5.
I also have a sincerely held religious belief that most Republican politicians are complete and utter assholes.
Posted by StuckInUtah on April 26, 2013 at 2:01 PM · Report this
very bad homo 7
Well luckily there's room for chickens and cows in my studio apartment.
Posted by very bad homo on April 26, 2013 at 2:01 PM · Report this
Backyard Bombardier 8
@5: They are right, as regards at least 50% of their constituents:

1. You'd have to be a moron to vote for a Republican; and yet:

2. Republican politicians get elected.

3. QED.
Posted by Backyard Bombardier on April 26, 2013 at 2:03 PM · Report this
9
Apparently, The Stranger needs to invest in a cell phone with a 509 area code.
Posted by MisterAdeline on April 26, 2013 at 2:10 PM · Report this
nicholaus 10
@9 No investment really needed, just use google phone to create a secondary phone number with that area code.
Posted by nicholaus on April 26, 2013 at 2:40 PM · Report this
11
@9 Or a VoIP account that will let you set the outgoing caller ID.

(Ummm... Oh, look at that. I have one.)

How much trouble could you get in for spoofing someone else's phone number?

Here are three names and numbers I guarantee you his office will answer calls from:

http://www.wallawallacountygop.com/conta…
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on April 26, 2013 at 2:53 PM · Report this
COMTE 12
Goddamn hypocritical chicken-shit motherfuckers is what they are: they can sign on to co-sponsor this vile piece of legislation, but when anybody calls them on it, they have to "refer (it) to the State GOP".

I'd say they all deserve a good swift kick to the balls - if they had any balls to begin with...
Posted by COMTE on April 26, 2013 at 2:56 PM · Report this
wisepunk 13
Everybody, let's just stop for a second. There is no reason to bother this asshole's office. The people there are too wimpy to answer the phone. "Oh noes, there is a possibly gay, possibly liberal trying to call me about work. Quick, hide me under the desk, I have the vapors"!

Let's get down to the heart of Walla Walla. Wine.

Here is a list of wineries in Walla Walla. http://wallawallawine.com/wineries/

Let's send out a few emails, letting them know that if there represenative wants the mo's to grow their own food, that maybe we just won't have the time to buy any of their wine for our thousands of restaurants. Let's start with Charles Smith, he seems like a hip guy.

http://www.charlessmithwines.com/contact…

Maybe a call from one of the largest businesses in his district he might pick up on.

Man have I learned that you can move away from eWa, but you can't get away from eWa.
Posted by wisepunk on April 26, 2013 at 2:58 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 14
@13 You, sir or madam, are wonderful!!!
Posted by Pope Peabrain on April 26, 2013 at 3:17 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 15
@13 - Well, so much for my onion-and-wine dinner tonight.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on April 26, 2013 at 3:21 PM · Report this
Cienna Madrid 16
@13, your suggestion is wonderful.

@15, your comment is wonderful.
Posted by Cienna Madrid on April 26, 2013 at 3:25 PM · Report this
17
I phoned both the number Anna Minard posted and Hewitt's district office: 509.545.2014. I got voice mail at both locations, even though I called during business hours. I guess Hewitt is out doing something important.

I left a message indicating my concern, and pointing out that while I, as a gay man, might be capable of growing my own food, I was not capable of growing my own gasoline.

Other SLOGGERS might want to leave respectful phone messages as well.
Posted by Clayton on April 26, 2013 at 3:25 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 18
So the Klan and white Neo-Nazis don't hold "sincere" beliefs about the supremacy of the White Race?
Posted by undead ayn rand on April 26, 2013 at 3:28 PM · Report this
19
@13 I respectfully disagree. If people keep calling the offices to the point where Hewitt and his staff can't do anything but either answer the phone or avoid calls, they're basically shut down.

And that's especially true if people are also flooding the email channels as well:

mike.hewitt@leg.wa.gov

Posted by Clayton on April 26, 2013 at 3:38 PM · Report this
20
@13 My bad. Irony fail.
Posted by Clayton on April 26, 2013 at 3:55 PM · Report this
Posted by EFB on April 26, 2013 at 4:04 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 22
Fuck this spineless staffer.

You know what, you answer the phone for a public legislator. That means you have to talk to citizens of this state, whether you like it or not. You don't get to pick and choose which citizens you want to talk to. You have an absolute obligation to speak to citizens who call, even those who oppose your views. Unless Hewitt is paying you out of his own pocket, you are a public employee. Your paycheck comes out of the taxes payed by all citizens, be they republican or democrat (or anything else).

You should be fired. Not for holding abhorrent views, but for hanging up on a citizen that pays your fucking salary.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on April 26, 2013 at 4:08 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 23
Bookmarking this post to reference when calling that number on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday morning...
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on April 26, 2013 at 4:15 PM · Report this
24
Or just call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000, where a friendly, non-partisan staffer will take your phone call and direct the message it to your legislator and also the Governor, if you desire (on any subject or bill, by the way). They operate 8-8 M-F. Not sure if you can leave a message for Mike Hewitt if he is not your rep, but other legislators need to know how we feel too!
Posted by PolicyWonk on April 26, 2013 at 4:18 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 25
@15 They make wine in California. Also Spain, Chile, Italy, even France, I hear. You needn't suffer thirst.

@13's kick-ass idea and this list of alternate wine producers may keep me busy for a while over the weekend.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on April 26, 2013 at 4:20 PM · Report this
26
I'll go @ 13 one further. I'm a wine steward. I make purchasing decisions for a well known national chain. I can choose to not order wines from Walla Walla. When asked my opinion On this or that walla walla winery, I can give a non committal "meh". I can point to wines from Mark Ryan, Travis Scarborough, Ross Andrew, Alexandria Nicole and many other west side wine makers who I personally know and trust. (And who all make outstanding wines.) and I can continue to do so until folks in the 16th give this anti-American shitheel the heave ho.
Your move, Walla Walla.
Posted by Pol Pot on April 26, 2013 at 6:45 PM · Report this
27
@26 FTW
Posted by intoxipolitan on April 26, 2013 at 7:55 PM · Report this
28
I am Jay Castro. It's very nice that Staffer Doe apologized to Anna, but I think that I deserve the apology to go to me directly. Not for his crazy pants opinion, but for being a public servant who refused to give me his name and then told me to not call back and hung up on me.

I did not misrepresent or exaggerate our conversation in the slightest. Why should I? Staffer Doe's behavior was better than fiction. But let's be honest, if this man doesn't even have the courage to lend his name to his words and actions, there isn't much hope that he will do the right thing and apologize to me directly.

Actually, if this is not Senator Hewitt's position, at this point I would like to hear this from him. Not an aggravated anonymous staffer that has accused me of half-lying. (I wonder which half he refers to?)

There has been a lot of response to these articles among my community. Everyone was all hi-fives and you rocks. But I really have to wonder: why was every gay person in the state not on the phone with me? Sure the bill has no chance of passing. But this is a bill to strip us of our basic American rights and create a new, lower class of citizen.

I fought and bled for gay rights as a child. I did not sacrifice my childhood and endure those terrible things just to see it all undone. In case it isn't clear by the introduction of this bill and the events of today: we might have won some battles but the war is far from over.

I will always fight for my right to be a free man. I beg of all of you to do the same. Apathy will be what makes things fall apart.
Posted by jayc206 on April 26, 2013 at 10:37 PM · Report this
29
I'm not from Washington state, but my niece is attending the University of Washington, so I left a message that if this bill passed she would no longer be doing business in the state and nor would I. This is absolutely outrageous, even if it has no chance of passing!
Posted by ZRAinSWVA on April 27, 2013 at 7:47 AM · Report this
30
Does the state Department of Agriculture have any extension programs for gay would-be farmers (like how to grow arugula)? I don't see anything on the website (http://agr.wa.gov/).

Also, if any hungry gays receive and use SNAP benefits is it legal for a store which accepts SNAP payments to refuse service to any eligible recipient? SNAP is governed by federal law, so one could literally make a federal case out of this.
Posted by Anastasia Beaverhausen on April 27, 2013 at 8:58 AM · Report this
31
So a Muslim extremist landlord could legally refuse to rent to infidels and Mr. Hewitt is absolutely okay with that. Good to know.
Posted by Itsnotme on April 27, 2013 at 9:36 AM · Report this
32
Maybe Hewitt's landlord should refuse him service (a.k.a. evict him) for sincerely held religious beliefs that bigots are anti-Christian and the enemies of God...
Posted by ShrewdObserver on April 27, 2013 at 10:40 AM · Report this
33
Alternatively:
(1) The bill passes.
(2) Various horses' asses make the mistake of exercising this "sincerely held" option.
(3) As a result of (2), the good people of Washington now know where NOT to take their business.*
(4) Horses' asses' businesses go tits-up.
(5) Washington enjoys a more horse's ass-free economy.
Usually, market forces don't work very well in protecting victims of discrimination, but in this case, they probably would. It's a lose-lose for Hewitt and his bigots--if it passes, they'll likely be in worse shape over time, not better.
_____
* You don't have to be gay to be creeped out by someone you barely know who believes his approval of what he imagines you do in bed is (a) a basis for doing business or (b) a fit topic of conversation.
Posted by MollyNYC on April 28, 2013 at 9:19 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 34
@33: "(3) As a result of (2), the good people of Washington now know where NOT to take their business.*"

That really worked well during segregation.
Posted by undead ayn rand on April 28, 2013 at 10:25 AM · Report this
35
I fired an employee because he was gay. Sorry, liberals, it's my RIGHT as an American.
Posted by gayman69 on April 28, 2013 at 10:57 AM · Report this
36
From my dictionary, the verb definition of a bully is:
be bossy towards
syn: strong-arm, browbeat, bullyrag, ballyrag, boss around, hector, push around

discourage or frighten with threats or a domineering manner; intimidate
syn: browbeat, swagger

I would say that these definitions of a ‘bully’ are an exact description of those in the homosexual community towards one little female business owner that refuses to put her artistic talents to work to do that which she is morally opposed.

The homosexual community is coming off as, we won’t bother you unless you do or say something we don’t like’. (Never mind our Constitutional freedom and unalienable rights) Typical of the average bully many of us unfortunately come across in life on occasion.

Thankfully, this will be a good example to others in other states as to what to expect from the homosexual lobby in legislation.

Below is the letter that I wrote my Senator in support of SB5927.

Please support SB5927. Attorney General Bob Ferguson persecution of Arlene's Flowers is not only a waste of taxpayer money, but is also a good example of government tyranny. Voters in Washington state were told that redefining marriage wasn't going to affect anyone other than the same-sex couples who could get a marriage certificate. Yet, now we’re in the position of watching our Attorney General persecute a business because the owner does not want to use her artistic talents and work to support something that she is morally opposed. This is very comparable to forcing a person that was morally opposed to abortion to work in an abortion clinic.

The actions of my tax payer funded Attorney General towards this business that refused to bend their knee to the actions of a tyrannical government force, is not only unconstitutional and repugnant, but clearly not the actions of a government force that is operating in a free nation. In fact, these actions remind me of the old definition of the soviet union’s Iron Fist beneath the Velvet Glove.

I would like to ask you to search your heart and honestly ask yourself the question, how much bondage, caused by elected officials that have forgotten their Oath of Office, when they vote on unconstitutional bills, do you think the people in this state will tolerate before you cause a revolt comparable to our Battle for Independence?
More...
Posted by alice12342000 on April 28, 2013 at 12:59 PM · Report this
37
From my dictionary, the verb definition of a bully is:
be bossy towards
syn: strong-arm, browbeat, bullyrag, ballyrag, boss around, hector, push around

discourage or frighten with threats or a domineering manner; intimidate
syn: browbeat, swagger

I would say that these definitions of a ‘bully’ are an exact description of those in the homosexual community towards one little female business owner that refuses to put her artistic talents to work to do that which she is morally opposed.

The homosexual community is coming off as, we won’t bother you unless you do or say something we don’t like’. (Never mind our Constitutional freedom and unalienable rights) Typical of the average bully many of us unfortunately come across in life on occasion.

Thankfully, this will be a good example to others in other states as to what to expect from the homosexual lobby in legislation.

Below is the letter that I wrote my Senator in support of SB5927.

Please support SB5927. Attorney General Bob Ferguson persecution of Arlene's Flowers is not only a waste of taxpayer money, but is also a good example of government tyranny. Voters in Washington state were told that redefining marriage wasn't going to affect anyone other than the same-sex couples who could get a marriage certificate. Yet, now we’re in the position of watching our Attorney General persecute a business because the owner does not want to use her artistic talents and work to support something that she is morally opposed. This is very comparable to forcing a person that was morally opposed to abortion to work in an abortion clinic.

The actions of my tax payer funded Attorney General towards this business that refused to bend their knee to the actions of a tyrannical government force, is not only unconstitutional and repugnant, but clearly not the actions of a government force that is operating in a free nation. In fact, these actions remind me of the old definition of the soviet union’s Iron Fist beneath the Velvet Glove.

I would like to ask you to search your heart and honestly ask yourself the question, how much bondage, caused by elected officials that have forgotten their Oath of Office, when they vote on unconstitutional bills, do you think the people in this state will tolerate before you cause a revolt comparable to our Battle for Independence?
More...
Posted by alice12342000 on April 28, 2013 at 1:02 PM · Report this
38
Uh-huh. Suuuuuuure this happened. Not a shred of proof of it, but hey, everyone just go ahead and believe it anyway.
Posted by Jay McHue on April 28, 2013 at 2:32 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 39
@35: Shitty troll is shitty.
Posted by undead ayn rand on April 28, 2013 at 10:30 PM · Report this
40
@38

It most certainly did happen, exactly as I described it. I have my notes from this, and all of my conversations from Friday morning.
Posted by jayc206 on April 29, 2013 at 1:22 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 41
@40: That troll works for the bigot flower shop, or is friends with the owner. They only signed up to post in the threads concerned with them.
Posted by undead ayn rand on April 29, 2013 at 12:31 PM · Report this
42
#40

Oh, okay. You have notes. Rock solid proof right there. Uh-huh. Thanks.
Posted by Jay McHue on April 29, 2013 at 2:25 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 43
@42: If this is the best astroturfing you can do, your business is going to fail when every straight non-hatemonger abandons you.
Posted by undead ayn rand on April 29, 2013 at 2:54 PM · Report this
44
Is this staff member living under a rock?
doesn't he know that doing this to a reporter or blog writer is going to go super viral?
I HIGHLY doubt that this lawmaker; being a politician, wants a story like this floating around.
He still has to work with other lawmakers around the state and work with committees and deals on other legislation to get certain issues even a platform to vote on or committees to even approve a debate on certain bills or issues. Progressive Liberals are the majority in this state...by a HUGE margin. this DOES not help his political career at all by pushing legislation that has NO chance of passing.
these people really are dumb....
Posted by electrosectlivenlove on April 29, 2013 at 3:06 PM · Report this
45
What if a Jewish Senator sponsors a bill that allows Jewish businesses to refuse service to all non Jews because of “sincerely held religious beliefs” that non Jews were against God?

Would these Senators just decide to "grow their own food" in Washington? Hell no they would go to court claiming all Jews should self deport to Israel from Christian America.

Why is it any different from Islamic Republic of Iran? We are NOT a Christian Republic of America, one nation under the King James Bible. We are a secular democratic Republic under the Constitution of the United States of America with Freedom of and From Religion as we may desire. Don't tread on Me!
Posted by DavidMorse1701 on April 29, 2013 at 10:17 PM · Report this
46
Hey people - I'm from Walla Walla ( I live in New York now) and Walla Wallans are going ape-sh@# about this bill. If you want to support getting this guy out of office support Walla Walla wines. The wine makers are all pretty awesome and don't like having the the Walla Walla name associated with this BS.
Posted by NY_from_WA on April 30, 2013 at 9:12 AM · Report this
47
My letter to Senator Hewitt-

Dear Senator Hewitt:

I sincerely hope you can advise me regarding a frantic call I received from my 78-year old aunt Edna, who lives in a small town in your state. She is completely overwhelmed at the possible need to raise her own food and produce her own gasoline if SB5927 passes. She is an avid gardener and could possibly grow enough vegetables to meet her needs, but she doesn't have enough space to grow wheat or the strength required to milk a cow. She is quite sure there is no oil on her .17 acre lot.

I would appreciate any advice or words of comfort you can offer.

Respectfully,
XXX
Posted by Oomatrix on April 30, 2013 at 10:24 AM · Report this
48
I just called his office and left a message asking if that meant that Christian owned hospitals (like most these days) can now refuse to treat Jews as well unless they convert, since that also can fall into the "religiously disagree with" category. I want them to SPECIFICALLY spell out that it's just an anti-gay bill instead of hiding behind the euphemistic "against their sincere religious beliefs" criteria. Let's see if they go for the bait.
Posted by pragmatically jaded on April 30, 2013 at 2:51 PM · Report this
49
hi..its me manikandan age 22 from india, am gay , seeking sponsorship visa job,, please anyone help me am degree holder in computer studies and also completed certification course in computer hardware and networking I will do my job are best true to the best of my knowledge.please I beg you to help me am suffering lot, have lot of debts want to to settle down within short period..if anyone ready please contact to my mail id manu.itp91@gmail.com.
Posted by manu in love on August 1, 2013 at 12:30 AM · Report this

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