Archive for January, 2012

from The Union Leader.

“Live Free or Die” isn’t just the official motto for a great state. As the 62nd Republican National Committee Chairman, I think it’s a mantra our party should live by. I hope that New Hampshire legislators will remember this slogan and reject proposals to strip citizens of their right to marry.

The party of Lincoln and Reagan should stand first and foremost for freedom. It’s part of our heritage and ought to be part of our DNA. Freedom for Americans of all races is why our party was founded. And our greatest moments — from the unbelievable economic recovery unleashed by lower taxes and less regulation to the fall of the Berlin Wall — resulted when we promoted freedom.

Stripping away the right of adults in New Hampshire to marry the person they love is antithetical to freedom. If we really believe (and we should) that every citizen is endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness, shouldn’t this include the right to marriage? If we believe in limited government, how can we justify expanding the authority of the state to take away this most personal, fundamental right? Aren’t politicians already too involved in too much of our lives? Why would we want to expand government to such a personal space?

Allowing New Hampshire citizens to marry the person they love isn’t just consistent with maximizing freedom. It also promotes responsibility, commitment and stability; it promotes family values. Again, our history provides a good road map: One of our party’s finest hours was the passage of welfare reform because it strengthened families and promoted marriage. Why would we want to take away this right from anyone?

New Hampshire’s civil marriage law protects religious freedom. No religious institution has to perform or recognize same-sex marriages. This is important because different religious traditions have different views on this question.

But despite these differences, so many of our faiths and traditions are rooted in the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would want done to you. Isn’t allowing adults to marry the person they love consistent with the Golden Rule? If you were born gay (as I was), how would you feel if your state government took away this basic civil right that is available to all of your neighbors? How would you feel if you were a young person and were told by your state that the loving and stabilizing relationship you see in your mom and dad would never be available to you?

During my time in politics, I always believed that good policy is good politics. Looking at the views of New Hampshire voters, it’s pretty clear that stripping the right to marry is bad policy and bad politics. Sixty-two percent of New Hampshire voters oppose taking away the right to marry.

I will be in New Hampshire this week — to urge legislative members of my party to reject House Bill 437. It’s time to stand up for individual freedom and liberty, to live by the Golden Rule and to oppose any effort to diminish or strip away individual rights, and to return to the real business of building business, keeping taxes down and growing our economy. “Live Free or Die” should be more than just a slogan.

Ken Mehlman, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, is a businessman in New York.

Read the article from The Union Leader.

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from MSNBC.

Washington state may soon join Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia as a state with legal gay marriage. Like Maine, the state has had a domestic partnership law in place for several years. However, Washington’s Senate Bill 6239 would extend full marriage equality to same-sex couples, and according to the Associated Press, there are enough votes in the state senate for the measure to pass.

The bill has the support of several major companies — but Microsoft, whose headquarters are in Redmond, is the most high-profile business to back it. And Brad Smith, Microsoft’s executive vice president of legal and corporate affairs, says the law is essential to the company’s competitive edge.

“As other states recognize marriage equality, Washington’s employers are at a disadvantage if we cannot offer a similar, inclusive environment to our talented employees, our top recruits, and their families,” he wrote.

(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft.)

Not everyone sees Senate Bill 6239 as a boon to state businesses. The National Organization for Marriage is mounting a fierce fight against it, as they have fought against similar legislation in other states. “NOM will not stand by and let activist politicians redefine marriage, the bedrock of civilization, without voters having a say,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. “Just as we mounted a People’s Veto in Maine and were responsible for qualifying Proposition 8 to the ballot in California, we will make sure that voters in Washington have the ability to decide the definition of marriage for themselves.”

Microsoft is not the first corporation to support gay marriage. Many of its supporters hail from corporate America, as was the case in New York, the last state to legalize gay marriage, in June 2011.

Read the article from MSNBC.

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State Sen. Cheryl Pflug, R-Maple Valley

from The Seattle Times.

The state Senate is becoming a place of possibility. Sen. Cheryl Pflug is joining other lawmakers willing to vote to give same-sex couples the full rights and benefits of marriage.

She is commended for standing up to say what she believes, even if it does not perfectly mesh with her caucus.

Pflug of Maple Valley is the second Republican senator in recent days to say she will support gay-marriage legislation. She has voted for domestic-partnership benefits twice and believes strongly in fairness for all.

“I have been a longtime supporter of human equality,” said Pflug. “I do not feel diminished by having another human being experience the same freedom I am entitled to exercise. I would feel diminished by denying another human the ability to exercise those same rights and freedoms.”

The more senators and representatives who see this matter in the broad light of day the better.

Gay-marriage proponents think votes exist for passage in the state House; but the math is more complicated in the Senate. Pflug’s bold stance helps a lot. She and her neighbor in Olympia legislative offices, Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, both support the legislation without a public vote.

Going to voters, as Pflug points out, is for times when lawmakers do not know what to do. Pflug knows exactly what to do. Fairness can come only from giving gays and lesbians the same rights and benefits as everyone else. Three cheers for Pflug for demonstrating courage and leadership.

Read the article from The Seattle Times.

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published in The Seattle Times.

SOMETIMES it takes just one individual to stand on principle and let others follow. State Sen. Steve Litzow announced he will be the first Republican in the Senate to support gay marriage.

Outstanding. Litzow is a profile in courage, a freshman lawmaker willing to act on conviction.

Litzow of Mercer Island told The Times editorial board he plans to support this historic legislation. His announcement follows last week’s decision by Gov. Chris Gregoire to introduce and push a law that affords gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits of marriage enjoyed by other couples.

If the legislation is approved — and it should be — Washington would become the seventh state in the country to act on this compelling civil-rights issue.

“I am a traditional Republican,” explained Litzow. “When you think about gay marriage, it’s the right thing to do and it’s very consistent with the tenets of being a Republican — such as individual freedom and personal responsibility.”

Litzow is not an activist on social issues, but is a big supporter of education reform. He also is a suburban businessman, married with four children, who believes in treating all citizens fairly. He believes that if two adults of the same gender wish to commit to each other, the state should not discriminate, period. He is correct.

State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, will work the marriage-legalization bill in the Senate. He has said votes for passage probably exist in the House, but the Senate remains iffy.

Litzow’s decision will be a huge factor. He likely will take some heat from fellow Republicans, but his willingness to buck his party is commendable.

An individual lawmaker has thought an issue through and decided to take a stand. His announcement should prompt other Republicans to make the same decision. It is time to legalize same-sex marriage in this state.

Litzow’s announcement helps Democrats and Republicans reach that milestone. Senators or representatives who have been waffling should step up and join him.

Read the article from The Seattle Times.

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from CNN.

…”I think Iowans are spoiled rotten,” Kathy Potts says with a smile.

She moved here from Mississippi more than a dozen years ago, and believes Iowans don’t understand what a unique opportunity it is to meet presidential candidates face-to-face every four years.

“There’s an old joke about a New Hampshire farmer and an Iowa farmer,” she says, referring to the nation’s first two contests. “The New Hampshire farmer asks the Iowan, ‘Have you decided who you’re going to vote for yet? And the Iowan says, ‘No, I’ve only met them each three times.’ ”

It’s caucus week in Iowa, and it’s also the week Potts is getting her barn sign. She already has two yard signs, a bumper sticker and countless T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats. The five-by-seven “Rick Perry for President” banner will stretch across her entire front porch like a billboard. (Unlike many Iowans, she doesn’t actually have a barn, not on her busy Cedar Rapids street.) Potts says a campaign staffer once told her each bumper sticker is the equivalent of $300 in advertising. What must her barn sign be worth?

Potts is a community activist, a mother to four grown children and a volunteer for the Texas governor’s presidential campaign. He’s the fourth Republican candidate she has helped support since she moved to the state.

Four years ago, Mitt Romney was her man. Now she’s rallying hard behind Perry, who she believes is honest and straightforward. To those who have labeled Perry’s campaign in Iowa his “apology tour,” an attempt to make up for a series of gaffes that dropped the candidate out of the top of the polls, she has this to say: “I like a man that can say oops.”

But even Potts, who dedicates around 20 hours a week to making calls, going to events, posting on her Facebook page and chatting with folks in her neighborhood, had a gut check when a controversial Perry campaign ad hit the airwaves. In it, Perry describes what he calls the hypocrisy of a nation that allows gays to openly serve in the military but forbids children from praying in schools.

Potts, an evangelical who supports gay marriage herself, says continuing to campaign was difficult. “Picking up the phone is the hardest part,” Potts says. “I was honestly afraid that there would be backlash after the ad came out.”

It turned out the most vocal cry of foul came from inside her own family. “My daughter called me up and said, “I can’t believe my parents would vote for someone so ignorant. She was convinced (the Perrys) were just horrible and hated gay people.”

Potts didn’t quite know what to say. “I knew (the Perrys) were not anti-gay,” she says. ” I just could not support somebody who hated somebody based on their sexual preference.” So Potts took advantage of her status as a spoiled Iowan: She buttonholed Perry’s wife.

Anita Perry’s answer at a campaign event reassured Potts. “She said they had a lot of gay friends. I didn’t tell her what my daughter said.”

Before Potts left the event, Anita Perry handed her a gift: an official Texas Christmas ornament from the governor’s mansion.

Asked why the ornament was in a box and not on her tree, Potts smiles. “My daughter put (the tree) up this year.”

Read the full article from CNN.

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