With all the talk about the success of Democrats in Montana and the laudatory comments towards them for supporting anti-gay legislation in order to get elected, I thought I'd point out a battle in nearby Idaho, where Democrats are on the outskirts and where Republicans are the ones split on whether or not to support gay-bashing for electoral gain.
Idaho was one of a handful of states last year whose legislature considered but then failed to pass an amendment banning all benefits for gay couples. The ban passed the house easily, but when it came time for a senate vote, one of their most powerful Republicans, Sheila Sorenson, refused to let the ban come up for a vote. She felt the legislation was unnecessary, divisive, and against everything the Republican Party stood for. Since she was retiring (to move to Hawaii -- maybe she can trade leis with the Gabbard family or Linda Lingle), the other Republicans agreed to not fight her wishes, and the bill died. Come the 2004 primaries, Idaho voters did not follow the lead of those in states like Kansas or Arizona. They threw out both moderate and right-wing psycho Republicans, including a freshman legislator who introduced the ban and expected to be something big. In November, Idaho voters kept the legislature at the same makeup, no losses for Republicans, no real gains, and also gave Bush a lower total of the vote than he received in 2000. Idaho also elected a lesbian, Nicole LeFavour, to a seat in Boise, the first out gay legislator in the history of the state. So there was no major stampede from Idaho voters based on the legislature not passing a gay amendment.
The amendment is now back and even though the noble Senator Sorenson is far away from the lower 48, several key Republican senators still refuse to vote for the ban. Indeed, some of the Republican senators made my jaw drop by making comments like this:
"I believe gay marriage is a wedge issue promoted by the far right to tear apart the Republican Party," said Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene. "I don't think this exercise is worth a hill of beans."
There are supposedly 12 votes in the senate which at least partially oppose the ban. If those votes hold, then the ban will again fail to pass the senate. The question is will they hold, and what progressives and moderates are willing to do to help out legislators who refuse to cave in to this endless gay-bashing.
It's kind of sad that amendments are so likely to pass in Kansas, Arizona, Indiana, the Carolinas, and yet Idaho refuses to give up the fight...I never thought I would be proud of Idaho. But I really do think that we should try to contact people in Idaho and help those who are trying to shift the GOP away from total fundie control.
This is a gay Idaho website and this is a list for Idaho's legislators. I'm not sure if the roster been updated for the 2005-2006 session but that should happen in a few months.
Here are the 3 names listed in the article. I'm sure they are being bombared with ugly lobbying and bullying and primary threats. If you know who the other 9 are, please include them in this diary.
John W. Goedde , Republican
District 4, Coeur d'Alene
525-B W. Harrison Ave., Coeur d'Alene, 83814
Home (208) 660-7663
Bus (208) 664-9223
FAX (208) 664-9336
Property/Casualty Insurance Sales
Brad Little , Republican
District 11, Emmett
P.O. Box 488, Emmett, 83617-0488
Home (208) 365-6566
Bus (208) 365-4611
FAX (208) 365-4615
Joe Stegner , Republican
District 7, Lewiston
216 Prospect Blvd., Lewiston, 83501
Home (208) 743-3032
FAX (208) 798-8016
Retired Grain Dealer
National, extremely well-funded hate groups are working overtime to terrorize these legislators. It's important that they hear our voices, and the voice of anyone you know in Idaho who opposes this amendment. It's also important that people in Idaho know the full scope of this amendment, that it bans any benefits and legal contracts, instead of just thinking the amendment "saves" marriage. Am I so naive that I think huge majorities of the public would change their mind and oppose the amendment when they find out the real content? No, definitely not. But I do think some people would change their mind, and that may be enough.
We don't talk enough about Idaho. We talk a lot about Wyoming, and Montana, and the wave of the future, but I think there are things brewing in Idaho that could be an entirely new chapter for the Republican Party as well as for sensible Democrats.