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Crossposted at Asian Pacific Americans for Progress.

The Washington State legislature begins debate on a marriage equality bill tomorrow. It's a bill that, if passed, would make Washington the seventh state to offer equal marriage rights to its gay and lesbian citizens on a state level. (Full equal rights will require the removal of the federal-level Defense of Marriage Act.)

The bill has the support of soon-to-be outgoing Governor Christine Gregorie as well as large margins in the Assembly and the general publlc. However, the last hurdle remains the state's Senate where the Democrats hold a solid majority, but where several conservative Democrats have been silent on the issue. The Senate is one vote shy of the 25 votes it needs to pass in the 49-member body.

One Senator who has not signaled his intentions is Asian American Paull Shin who represents a solidly Democratic district.

Given the discrimination that Asian Americans have suffered throughout this country and specifically in places like Seattle and Bellingham, it's disheartening that, when given the opportunity to advance civil rights, that our elected officials are not leading the fight.

Part of the reason could be Shin's membership in the Mormon Church, one of the main opponents of equality for LGBT's. Hopefully, Shin will remember, not just the history of Asian Americans, but also the notion of separation of church and state. If he wants to be part of a religion that does not treat it's LGBT members as equals, that is his choice, but he should not make non-Mormons adhere to the tenets of his religion.

At the age of 74, Shin could be thinking about his legacy at this point. There are rumors that he plans to retire at the end of this term. Hopefully, Shin will want to be remembered as someone who stood on the side of justice and equality.

You can contact him at:

    By phone:

    Olympia Office: (360) 786-7640
    District Office: (425) 673-1393
    By e-mail:

    Paull.Shin@leg.wa.gov
    By postal mail:

    Sen. Paull Shin
    PO Box 40421
    Olympia, WA 98504-0421
    Staff contacts:

    Evan Clifthorne, Legislative Assistant
    Evan.Clifthorne@leg.wa.gov or 360-786-7640

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Comment Preferences

  •  An Asian is no more responsible for (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doroma, Chitown Kev, cris0000, randomfacts

    his vote than a person of any other race. There are many senators not supporting the bill. I believe they are all wrong, but I don't think any one of them should be singled out on the basis of his race.

    This diary is a piece of racist shit.

    "In America racism is a misdemeanor. Noticing racism is a felony" -- Max Minton

    by teachme2night on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 10:02:30 AM PST

    •  Yes, all Senators should be held accountable (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Greenfinches

      ...for their votes. But if you come from a community that has faced discrimination, then hopefully, you will be more sensitive to the discrimination that others are feeling. It's called empathy, not racism.

      •  But that sounds to me like giving the white (5+ / 0-)

        senators a pass and punishing the Asian American one. Why not single out the women senators then? Women have also been oppressed in this country. This reminds me of the people who singled out blacks/ latinos for prop 8 even though the majority of people who voted for prop 8 were white Republicans. That's not fair or progressive at all.

      •  And if you haved lived a life of privilege (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chitown Kev, buddabelly, erratic

        you should appreciate how hard life would be without a fair and equal chance. There are reasons for every person to be empathetic. To say that this one senator is standing in the way of marriage equality -- any more or any less than the other non-supportive senator -- strictly on the basis of his race is, by definition, racist.

        As a minority, being gay, I believe that my experience has made me more aware of the oppression other minorities face. In that way and to that extent I agree with you. I see your point. But there is no greater obligation for me to be moral and ethical in such circumstances than there is for a straight person. For example, it is not "worse" for a gay person to be racist than it is for a straight person. To apply some above-and-beyond onus on minority members is to give a special okay-to-be-a-bigot status to persons in the majority.

        "In America racism is a misdemeanor. Noticing racism is a felony" -- Max Minton

        by teachme2night on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 10:36:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There is no greater obligation... (0+ / 0-)
          As a minority, being gay, I believe that my experience has made me more aware of the oppression other minorities face. In that way and to that extent I agree with you. I see your point.

          That was the whole point of my post. I just expected (hoped) that one minority would understand the discrimination that another minority feels and that they would then be better prepared to work in coalition to support one another's issues. That's all.

          But I don't think it's right that people are telling me that I cannot call out discrimination in my own community.

  •  You might want to change the title... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erratic, Khun David, randomfacts

    ...to call out Shin by name rather than race.  My wife is Asian-American, as are my children.  To blame Shin based on race is to make culpable anyone of Asian heritage.

    This is especially wrong when "Asian" is such a broad category.  A Chinese is not a Thai, who is not Filipino, who is not Korean, who is not Japanese, who is not Pacific Islander, who is not Indonesian.  Think about it.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by DaveinBremerton on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 10:26:17 AM PST

    •  Um, did you assume I was not Asian American? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      myboo, JamieG from Md

      I actually have thought about these issues a lot.

      I am Asian American myself (and gay) and I think it's important to point out when people in our community, who should be more sensitive to racism/sexism/homophobia, don't get how these forms of discrimination are connected.

      In terms of the term "Asian American", it is a census-created term, yes, but there is an "Asian American" culture that is being created in this country.

      •  I hear you Writestuff but, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        myboo, kerplunk, JamieG from Md

        very often, those who have experiencesd discrimination really don't see or understand other forms of discrimination or maybe they want to take it out on another group.

        I'm tempted to tip and rec this diary though, and here's why.

        I'm black and gay and I don't think that my fellow travelers in the black community really appreciate how much I am personally disgusted with attitudes such as what you describe and will so often deflect the problem.

        LGBT's exist accross the "racial" spectrum. If you ain't down with LGBT rights then you ain't down with black/Latino/APA rights, period.

      •  Actually, I assumed you were (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        doroma, justintime, erratic

        Asian based on the crosspost. But I don't think it matters. We don't need Shin's vote any more than we need the white votes. We need to focus pressure on the senators most likely to flip, not the senators whose race makes them -- in your thinking -- more obligated to flip.

        Targeting a 74 year old Mormon doesn't sound like the most effective strategy, especially if he is retiring and no longer answerable to the voters. He will still be answerable to his church.

        "In America racism is a misdemeanor. Noticing racism is a felony" -- Max Minton

        by teachme2night on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 10:54:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, we should target every Senator (0+ / 0-)

          but we should target them where we are most effective. For instance, he is an adopted Korean. I have emailed several of my friends who are also adopted Koreans and asked them to talk about their experiences and how all families are different, but deserve respect. Maybe that might make him rethink the issue.

          I have not given up hope on getting this 74-year old Mormon on our side.

          And again, I stand by my point, race does matter. It continues to matter in this country. And to deny that it is a factor fits in with this "post-racial" society that is frankly unrealistic and denies the individual experiences that we have in this country.

          The answer is to acknowledge diversity, not ignore it.

          •  And if you are talking about Asians -- more (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erratic

            specifically Koreans -- pressuring or trying to influence him based on their commonality, go for it. But there's, to me, a big difference between that and asking the larger -- and overwhelmingly white -- DailyKos community to lecture this old guy on his duties as an Asian. Huge difference. I think there's a big difference between posting this at Asian Pacific Americans for Progress and at DK. There's a big difference between how we keep house within our communities and what we put out on Main Street.

            And if you want to lecture somebody on diversity and "race matters" you may want to shop around for someone who needs the lecture more than I do.

            "In America racism is a misdemeanor. Noticing racism is a felony" -- Max Minton

            by teachme2night on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 12:44:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Do you think your race gives bigotry a free pass? (0+ / 0-)

        I don't.

        "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

        by DaveinBremerton on Mon Jan 23, 2012 at 07:23:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  What does race have to do with it? What about the (4+ / 0-)

    majority of non-Asian politicians standing in the way of marriage equality countrywide? . Very ironic that you are talking about equality then pull this race crap.

  •  How about making a list of all the Senators (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teachme2night, erratic

    "on the fence" with their contact information?

    Wouldn't that be more useful than debating whether or not a particular Senator is guilty of some particular act of callousness or whatever?

  •  This continues a line of bullshit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erratic

    I've been seeing a lot here. Blame the gays for not voting Dem in good enough numbers. Blame the blacks for not voting in high enough numbers. Blame the Mexicans for not turning Texas blue. This constant harping on minorities for being insufficiently perfect in order to make up for how straight white Anglos vote is bullshit.

    This guy's age and religion are both much more likely factors than race in how he's voting. But whatever factors are involved, he is still just one guy with one vote who is being a bigot and an asshole -- same as every other bigoted asshole who is opposing equality.

    "In America racism is a misdemeanor. Noticing racism is a felony" -- Max Minton

    by teachme2night on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 10:43:29 AM PST

    •  Talk about privilege (0+ / 0-)

      Your line of thinking assumes we should just remove race, age, gender etc. from any discussion, as if we are all just "humans."

      The truth is that these categories (race, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation) do impact our experiences in life, as well as our attitudes and understandings. There is nothing wrong with making the connection.

      What if a gay person came out again marriage equality?
      What if a Latino or Asian came out against the Dream Act?
      What if a woman came out against choice?

      Or in your world, are they no different than if any other random person came out against these positions? Personally, I think there is a difference.

      •  Stay on the same playing field. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        doroma, Chitown Kev, erratic
        What if a gay person came out again marriage equality?
        What if a Latino or Asian came out against the Dream Act?
        What if a woman came out against choice?

        Unless you're saying Shin is gay, you've just changed apples into oranges. In Shin's case, what you're saying is "What if a gay person came out against the Dream Act?" not "What if a gay person came out again marriage equality?"

        It would be wonderful f being a member of one minority made people more sensitive to the situation for other minorities. It does for me. It does for many minority members. And many of us feel a particular twinge of disgust when a member of our group is racist (or sexist or homophobic) toward another minority. It feels like it shames the whole group. That appears to be how you feel toward Shin, and I understand it. Frankly, I share it. But I will not give whites, men, straights, etc. a pass by placing a special burden on minority members.

        At the end of the day, Shin is not voting on the basis of what you/I/we feel an Asian should experiencially understand, he's voting -- like all the other opponents of the bill -- as the bigot that he is. Just like all the other bigots of whatever race they may be.

        "In America racism is a misdemeanor. Noticing racism is a felony" -- Max Minton

        by teachme2night on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 11:13:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  He's 74 years old (4+ / 0-)

    why not point out his age?

    If there's anything that correlates with opposition to marriage equality nearly every damn time, it's age (although there are many wonderful 65+ allies for marriage equality).

    This is just race baiting.

  •  He's Mormon (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teachme2night, erratic

    Wasn't the Mormon church instrumental in preventing same-sex marriage in California? It stands to reason they would control the vote of one of their own members.

    Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

    by JamieG from Md on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 12:11:13 PM PST

  •  the whole racist undertone of this diary (0+ / 0-)

    The whole racist undertone of this diary is deeply troubling.

    State Senator Shin is not a bit more in a "duty" to vote for this particular legislation than any other senator.

    Furthermore the suggestion a single vote on a minor issue like this that happens to be obsession of  a few would tarnish the man's life work and reputation is ridiculous and offensive.

    Just delete this diary.

  •  Oy! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teachme2night, erratic

    As another gay Asian American, I am uncomfortable with the tack that you chose, that is, to single out the one Asian American 74 year old Mormon Senator as the 25th "should be ours" vote.  I get it, I understand your outrage, but I would welcome the context (that you and I may understand, but sadly few others on this site do) of the influential and important role of Democratic Asian Americans in progressive causes, and Mr Shin's wavering as an outlier to that history of liberalism.  

    As I understand it, Mr Shin, Mr Fain, and Mr Hill have all declared themselves as undecided.  Mr Shin previously opposed, so a "get" of his vote would be a significant change from his past.  Also, a female Democratic Senator, Ms Hagen, has declared herself opposed to any bill that doesn't go to a direct constituent vote.  As a person who has been subjected to legal discrimination until the Civil Rights Act, one would also argue that Ms Hagen "should be" one of our votes, but she appears to have gotten a pass, since she is a solid No.  

    Mr Shin was adopted by a white Mormon GI dentist when he was a teenager, and brought to this country.  His experience as an Asian American may be somewhat colored by that and may be different from what you or I might expect simply by the label "Asian American".  

    I wish we could count on all  progressives and liberals, and all those who have been the targets of discrimination (in all its forms) for support because of the obvious shared experience, but it ain't so.  The great liberal  and beloved icon FDR reversed and allowed a segregated WPA, refused to support anti-lynching laws, and rounded up and incarcerated Japanese American grandmothers and infants as enemies of the state.  

    And it all sucks.  

    But I hope you can pull it off in WA,  and join us in Mass where marriage equity is the rule of law, and we haven't imploded yet.  

    "Out of Many, One." This is the great promise of our nation -9.75 -6.87

    by Uncle Moji on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 01:57:36 PM PST

    •  Let me ask this... (0+ / 0-)

      Would it be okay for an African American to say something like, "we need to get the black churches to stop fighting against equal marriage rights?" Or what about the high numbers of Asian American churches that actually had the biggest rallies in CA during Prop 8? I mean, why is it okay to point out categories of people by religion (Mormons and Catholics) or age (over 65) or geography (the South or Central Valley or OC), but not something like race or culture?

      In this particular case, I was just pointing out that a fellow Asian American should be be more sensitive to the struggles of other communities. I still don't understand why that has rankled people.

      •  I think it is perfectly okay (0+ / 0-)

        to say "We need to get Asian American churches or politicians to stop fighting against equal marriage!" I also think it is okay to say "statistically, older Americans knee jerk oppose marriage equity, and Asian American seniors are as much a party to this age bigotry."  

        I have zero problem with identifying the bigotry in our own community (Asian Americans) toward our own (Asian American LGBTQ), as well as to non-Asian American LGBTQ.  

        What rankles is that you single out one individual Asian American politician as the only reason marriage equity may not pass the Senate in WA.  You did not note the other Democrat, a white female who has as much demographic reason to be more sensitive to the struggle of other communities, or white Republicans who grew up poor, or who might otherwise be a "should be" an ally based on life experience.   You appear to make the ONE and only Asian American responsible for the end to the possibility of marriage equity in WA.  

        We all have a part in the failures to make our country more just and equitable for all.  The "he should vote for our rights because he's Asian American" is idealistic but not realistic, if such was the case, the women's suffrage movement would have supported black male suffrage, poor white men would have supported the end to sex discrimination, Mormons would have opposed the incarceration of Japanese Americans, rich gay men would be fighting for educational programs for pregnant teens, small family dairy farmers would be marching in support of mosques, and yes, an adopted Mormon Korean American Democrat would be voting without reservation for our right to marriage equity.

        We clearly have work to do in our own community.  Part of that is that we all need to be FULLY OUT to our families, friends, relatives, neighbors, and communities.  We are harder to demonize when we are out.  

        btw, my whole family supports LGBTQ rights, and this includes a very religious Catholic, a devout Jehovah's Witness, and my 97 year old Asian American Republican mother.  Why?  Because I am OUT OUT OUT (and legally married in the Commonwealth of Mass), and have been for decades.   And my cousins who are queer are OUT, too.  

        We are the change we have been waiting for.  It starts with us.

        "Out of Many, One." This is the great promise of our nation -9.75 -6.87

        by Uncle Moji on Mon Jan 23, 2012 at 03:57:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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