-- Alex Irwin on why he and his partner stay in Idaho rather than move across the border to Washington State for marriage equality.
A Republican lawmaker in blue Washington State wants to divide the Electoral College votes there by congressional district. The Spokane Statesman-Review reports this exchange with Republican State Representative Matt Shea:
Committee Chairman Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, asked Shea who would have been president right now if all the states had such a system in 2012.
"I don't know," Shea replied. "I'd have to do the math."
"It would not be Barack Obama," Hunt said.
In addition to winning the Electoral College, Barack Obama won the popular vote by nearly 5 million.
Shea says that voters in conservative eastern Washington feel disenfranchised, since the liberal coast outweighs them in the popular vote. Under his plan, Mitt Romney would have picked up two votes in that state. Washington has also signed on for the National Popular Vote scheme, which would give the state's electors to whichever candidate gets the most votes nationwide, if enough other states have signed on. Shea's bill takes Washington out of that plan. The bill appears to have little chance of advancing. (H/t @KSwa50)
Last week, we ran photojournalist Meryl Schenker's great picture of two guys in Washington state getting a marriage license in the first hours of marriage equality there. Now we can tell you that Larry Duncan (left) and Randell Shepherd got married on Sunday in the First Baptist Church of Seattle.
Thanks so much, Meryl, for the photos. (You can find more of her work here.)
Yesterday we published the wonderful photo of Larry Duncan and Randy Shepherd getting a marriage license in Washington state. Duncan and Shepherd moved there from Dallas because they wanted to live in a more gay-friendly place.
Commenter @JohnMesserly writes:
The migration part of this story interested me. Is this an extension of the polarization of states story? Like- you have some states with red supermajorities effectively banning abortions and other states going the other direction, ending the war on drugs, LGBT folks, and people that don't have Y chromosomes.
I wonder if the idea of the Far Right is to create such onerous laws in red states that people will self deport- thereby further solidifying the GOP grip on power in those states.
If so, they get no prize for originality. For example consider the Great Migration out of the south due to Jim Crow laws.
FWIW, I come from the state that voted to ban same-sex marriage by the widest margin in American history -- 86 percent -- and what surprises me when I go home is how many of my LGBT friends have stayed. They're not self-deporting. I suspect I probably did.
Thanks again, Meryl Schenker, for the photo.
Photojournalist Meryl Schenker took this picture very early this morning in Washington state, in the first hours when same-sex couples could get marriage licenses. Meryl writes:
One month after Washington State voters approved the state's marriage equality law in Ref. 74, same-sex couples get marriage licenses for the first time on December 6th, 2012. At around 1:30am, Larry Duncan, 56, left, and Randy Shepherd, 48, from North Bend, Wash. got their marriage license. The two plan to wed on December 9th, the first day it is possible for them to wed in a church in Washington State. They have been together for 11 years. Originally from Dallas, Texas, they moved here 7 years ago because it's more gay friendly. Randy is a computer programer and Larry is a retired psychology nurse.
Thank you for the picture, Meryl. (You can see more of her work here.)
How do you feel about people comparing movements for marriage equality and legalizing marijuana? If it's true that they have something in common -- starting with coming out -- then never have they been more closely linked than this day. Above, in Seattle, Jane Abbott Lighty and Pete-e Petersen got the first marriage license given to a same-sex couple in King County. The Seattle Times reports there were 200 couples waiting in line in that one county at midnight, when the new law went into effect.
Also at midnight: Washington State decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. The Seattle police department sent this notice to officers on the eve of the change:
Until further notice, officers shall not take any enforcement action -- other than to issue a verbal warning -- for a violation of I-502.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law -- kinda like same-sex marriage -- which is why the Seattle police department's blog, SPD Blotter, posted this advice for locals:
(On the show: Washington State puts marijuana legalization to the test.)
The other night we compared the end of Prohibition to the move in some states to legalize pot. When Prohibition ended in 1933, the states came up with their own individual ways of regulating alcohol sales. Some states to this day are "control states," which means that you buy your booze from the state instead of, say, a licensed private liquor store.
That's why, as Rachel pointed out, in some states, you end up buying beer in a place that looks like a prison. And that's why the state of Utah (a control state) will helpfully order Mezcal for you and serve as your personal sommelier!
In our story, though, we made a mistake. We included Washington on the list of control states. Turns out, as of this past June, after more than 70 years, Washington is no longer a control state. Voters in the state approved Initiative 1183 in 2011, which privatized alcohol sales in the state.
As it turns out, the control state model is in flux in other states, too. In Pennsylvania, state lawmakers have tried (and so far failed) to introduce legislation that would privatize alcohol sales. In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell was defeated last year in his attempt to privatize that state's ABC stores. In New Hampshire, too, they've had lots of back and forth about attempts to privatize alcohol sales -- at least partially.
So nearly eight decades after the end of Prohibition, some states are still trying to figure out exactly what role they should have in the sale and distribution of booze -- which makes the control state model being applied to pot all the more interesting.
Maine state Rep. Diane Russell
After voters in Colorado and Washington last week voted to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, a lawmaker in Maine has renewed her push to do the same there. From the Portland Press Herald:
[State Rep. Diane] Russell said her proposal would generate new sales tax revenue for higher education, law enforcement and other needs. She also said she believes regulating the sale of marijuana at licensed locations would make it easier for law enforcement to hold suppliers accountable and keep the drug out of the hands of children.
"The only way we can do that is to regulate it," Russell said Wednesday in a telephone interview.
In Rhode Island, legislation also appears on the way.
Maine state Rep. Russell, a Democrat, offered a legalization bill last year, too. It lost in the state legislature, 107-39. Democrats won control of both chambers last week, but her party leaders sound like they're not eager to run this one far up the flag pole. On the other hand, Maine is a state with a long history of successful of citizen referendums, and I wouldn't rule it out here.
When Maine extended marriage rights to same-sex couples last week, that was the result of a citizen referendum -- activists collected signatures, put the question on the ballot, and then won the campaign. The issues of marriage equality and legalizing pot have been twinned, both in terms of political strategy by supporters and in terms of voters who back one also backing another. Mainers approved medical marijuana three years, by citizens referendum. Keep an eye for voters trying to do what their legislators consider too risky.
Below, Tuesday's segment on the federal/state conflict over legalizing pot.
This thing in Maine where people are asking voters for same-sex couples' right to marry strikes me as wholly different from what we usually see. Instead of arguing against voting on rights, they're asking for a vote on rights. If beautiful ads alone led to victory, they'd already be there.
The news-news is that, lovely ads or no, they appear to be winning, not just with the direct referendum in Maine but also in Maryland and Washington, where the legislatures passed laws for marriage-equality that got put up for repeal.
(H/t America Blog)
In October, Cleveland police arrested Occupiers for refusing to leave their downtown camp after the city's curfew. Last night, the Cleveland City Council last night passed a resolution in support of Occupy Cleveland (h/t @TheBeautyVault).
[N]ot a lot gonna happen really.But it's another peaceful move forward for Cleveland's well-intended Occupiers, who are way better at not coming off like jackasses than just about everybody from Wall Street to Oakland. So we've got that going for us.
The vote was 18-1. Maybe part of what changed the tenor in Cleveland is that the Occupiers moved into foreclosure defense, camping out at the home of Elizabeth Sommerer and her two kids. Coming to the aid of your neighbors makes a difference for them and your movement, both.
That story's very different from what's happening in this report from Seattle. What the TV station describes as an "Occupy splinter group" has moved into an abandoned home in a Seattle neighborhood, across the street from a school, and announced that they're opening a homeless community center. "What kind of messages are you telling the kids?" one neighbor asks. "That it's OK to be homeless once you graduate, and just take over properties?" #PRfail for whichever group this, Occupy Seattle or otherwise.
This is the big day of action kicking off Occupy Our Homes, a campaign to "stop and reverse" evictions. Salon reporter Justin Elliott says 500 or so people are marching in Brooklyn now. @Laukani recommends the livestream from Occupy Atlanta, one of the first places to do eviction defense.
Viewer Jay West says he was there, and even that number seems high to him. He sends the pic above and writes, "You reported that there were '350,' and herein is photographic evidence the number is grossly inflated. Two of the people there were my wife and I (grinning from ear to ear), as well as some politicos and state employees." He estimates the crowd size at less than a hundred.
(Aryan Nations Official Position On the use of Violence, Force and Terror.)
In a video press release, Pastor Morris Gulett, world leader for the Aryan Nations, says his racist group opposes violence and terrorism to advance its racist agenda. Pastor Gulett says he'll boot anyone who engaged in them. With regard to the attempt to bomb a Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, Washington, he's got a footnote:
However, had this explosive device actually detonated that day in Spokane and hurt innocent children, killed someone maybe, we believe that the responsibility would lie squarely on the shoulders of the federal government for their policies on illegal immigration, hate crime legislation which is almost always leveled against whites, North American Free Trade Agreement, the exporting of high-paying American jobs to third-world countries, so that big business can profit at the cost of the American public and Chinese sweatshop workers.
Investigators say the bomb they found in Spokane last week was a sophisticated, remote-controlled device that would have taken real intelligence to build.