Washington Newspapers: Domestic Partnerships Good, Ref 71 Bad

UPDATE: The Kent Reporter just released the most amazing Op-Ed.  Kent is the home of the superfringe Constitution Party that adopted the poor waifs Gary & Larry.  Updating the lists below…

UPDATE 2: More pro-equality editorials from Central Kitsap Reporter and Federal Way Mirror.  The deeper I dig, the more gold I find.  Not a clunker yet!

“Please say a prayer today for the courageous legislators who are standing tall in opposition to the agenda of the Seattle-based homosexual lobby and their left wing media allies & enablers.”   –Larry Sitckney in a Washington Values Alliance E-mail from April 15, 2009

If you listen to Larry Stickney much, you hear this sort of refrain a lot.  The assumption behind such statements is that once you leave the “Seattle red zone”, as Larry calls it, you’re in anti-domestic partnership country.

I decided it was time to test this assumption.  Guess what I found?  The non-Seattle media is pro-equality too.  Papers from Kitsap County to Anacortes to Bellingham to Sedro-Woolley to Kent to Vancouver to Wenatchee to Yakima to Pasco to Spokane published stories sympathetic to our quest for equality.  Most significantly, every paper which stated an editorial opinion on domestic partnerships or Ref 71 unequivocally supported domestic partnerships or better (marriage equality) and opposed Ref 71.

It’s not just the Seattle-based media that supports fairness and equality, it’s darn near all of it.  Who’s going to break it to Larry?Methods:

I did a search for news stories and Op-Eds from Washington state papers.  I searched the ProQuest database “Washington State Newsstand”, available online to cardholders of the Seattle Public Library (h/t to the librarians of the world!).  Relevant papers searchable for the appropriate timeframe were Columbian (Vancouver), Herald (Everett), News Tribune (Tacoma), Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Seattle), Spokesman Review (Spokane), Tri – City Herald (Pasco) and Yakima Herald – Republic (Yakima).  The terms searched were “Referendum 71″ and “domestic partnership”.  I also used the Washington State Library’s list of state newspapers to identify smaller papers that were not in the ProQuest database.  I randomly selected about a dozen small-town papers from that list and searched the online archives of papers that didn’t require a subscription.


1.  Editorials about Domestic Partnership

I found editorials about Washington registered domestic partnerships in 12 local Washington newspapers.  Every one of them unequivocally supports domestic partnerships, or better (marriage equality).  Those newspapers were from Central Kitsap County, Everett, Federal Way, Kent, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, Walla Walla, Wenatchee and Yakima.

  • Central Kitsap Co.: Equal rights should be shared by all. Central Kitsap Reporter. May 7, 2009.
  • Everett: Bill enhances fairness for same-sex couples. The Herald. Mar 06, 2008.
  • Federal Way: Cheers and jeers. Federal Way Mirror. April 17, 2009.
  • Kent: Domestic partnership law doesn’t go far enough. Kent Reporter. May 22, 2009.
  • Seattle: It’s time to be fair. Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Feb 6, 2007;  Domestic partnership: It’s a good start. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Mar 4, 2007;  Domestic Partnerships: Only a first step. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Jan 24, 2008.
  • Seattle: An unnecessary campaign against gay partners. Seattle Times. May 11, 2009.
  • Spokane: Skewing prejudice. Our View: Cries of bill’s reverse discrimination miss the point Spokesman Review. Jan 28, 2007;  Efforts to squash same-sex rights are unwarranted. Spokesman Review. May 19, 2009.
  • Tacoma: Domestic partnerships: State should finish the job. The News Tribune. Apr 1, 2009.
  • Vancouver: In our view: Fairness Takes Hold. Columbian. Jul 23, 2007;  In our view, May 21: Discrimination Fades

    Governor signs bill that expands rights of domestic partnerships; it’s time for a truce
    . Columbian. May 21, 2009.
  • Walla Walla: Let’s hope debate over domestic partnerships has a civil tone. Walla Walla Union Bulletin. May 07, 2009.
  • Wenatchee: Let us debate, but nicely. Wenatchee World. May 06, 2009.
  • Yakima: Two Yakima lawmakers stand up for just rights for same-sex couples. Yakima Herald-Republic. Mar 16, 2009.

    2.  Editorials about Referendum 71

    The four newspapers that stated an editorial opinion on the referendum unanimously opposed Referendum 71.  Those papers are Central Kitsap Reporter, Columbian (Vancouver), Spokesman Review (Spokane), and the Seattle Times (Seattle).  It seems unlikely that any newspaper that has written an editorial in support of domestic partnerships would support the goal of Referendum 71.

    3.  Stories about Domestic Partnership

    Stories about the Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill of 2009 (SB 5688) and the ensuing referendum were neutral to positive, and always factual, right down to capturing Gary Randall’s inability to spin his own pitch.  For example, he let fly this surly quote in a Bellingham Herald story rather than finesse a confidence-inspiring answer

    “I know what we’re up against, I’m not naive,” Randall said.

    In contrast, Senator Murray clearly has no chip on his shoulder about “the media” and communicated his views beautifully.  The article continued with a concise quote from Pastor Joe Fuiten as to why this referendum battle is a loser for Randall and Stickney and should not be waged, then closed by sympathetically describing the legal difficulties faced by a gay couple that SB 5688 would ameliorate.  An earlier article in the same paper profiled the principled Rep. Maureen Walsh, a republican lawmaker who co-sponsored SB 5688 and withstood censure from a local arm of the party with strength and honesty.

    “I have always felt to do anything different was discrimination,” Walsh said. “It’s not my place to say who loves whom. It seems to me God is the ultimate judge, but it’s not for me to be making those calls about who should have the same rights I have as a citizen of this country.”

    …Walsh maintains she made the right choice, even if it costs her Republican support, and added she has no plans to run as a Democrat in the future.

    “I have to be true to myself,” she said. “If I did not do that, I would be a hypocrite. I could not continue to represent my district if I had to compromise my beliefs and morals.”

    In earlier stories about the initial and more limited domestic partnership law taking effect, newspapers gave plenty of space for the affected couples to tell their stories.  A good example of this was a story out of Sedro-Wooley, found in the Skagit Valley Herald.  The story profiled a gay couple and a pair of heterosexual octogenarians in town who were contemplating the benefits of the new law.

    “The whole deal boils down to civil rights,” said Bruce Reeves, president of Washington State Senior Citizens’ Lobby, which advocated for the registry.

    In similar fashion, the tiny and very local Anacortes American covered an impromptu post-election Proposition 8 protest in town, and gave the participants plenty of space to describe what marriage equality means to them.  Much like the Yakima Herald story introduced readers to the very real civil inequality faced by a lesbian couple, and how vital the recent anti-discrimination and domestic partnership laws are to them.


    Based on my review of dozens of articles and editorials, Larry Stickney will have to re-brand all Washington print media as “allies and enablers” of “the Seattle-based homosexual lobby”.

    Washington Newspapers: Domestic Partnerships GOOD, Referendum 71 BAD.

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