So predictable. Whenever legislation is proposed to secure civil equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Washingtonians, Senator Dan Swecker (R-Rochester, LD-20) is there to try to engineer state subsidies for the anti-equality crowd.
Swecker, who is campaign manager or board member for the principle anti-equality political action committees active in the state (Faith & Freedom PAC and Protect Marriage Washington PAC), does it by trying to tag a mandatory voter referendum clause onto pro-equality bills. Such a clause would compel the Secretary of State to automatically place the new law on the ballot in the next general election. If he were successful he could save himself and his anti-equality cronies the risk and expense of pursuing a referendum the way everyone else must: gathering signatures on a petition.
Now that there is statewide majority support for marriage equality in Washington and legislative leaders are planning to pass a marriage equality bill in 2012, Sen. Swecker is once again pursuing welfare for the anti-gay industry. Predicating his argument on the assumption that it’s ok to treat some Washington families unfairly during an economic downturn, Sen. Swecker advises:
Legislators should be spending their time developing policies that help put people back to work and get government out the way of prosperity and growth in the private sector. …However, if they truly believe that what the people of our state need most right now is to debate the definition of marriage, I believe they should put the question to a public vote in the form of a referendum to the people. That will keep the issue outside the Capitol and allow legislators to focus their energy on the immediate needs of our state.
The senator doesn’t explain how the Legislature could dodge the marriage conversation by forcing a referendum on the voters since, in order to pass a bill with a mandatory referendum clause in it, they’d first need to debate and vote on it.
Following is a list of pro-equality bills that Sen. Swecker tried to amend with a mandatory referendum clause that would have benefited the anti-equality industry. In every instance, these amendments failed.
* 2006. HB 2661 added sexual orientation and gender identity/expression to the state’s anti-discrimination laws. When it came up for debate on the senate floor, Swecker proposed Amendment 22 and Amendment 23 which would have mandated a voter referendum. Both failed, as did the ensuing referendum effort when Sen. Swecker’s anti-equality colleagues were forced to gather signatures like everyone else.
* 2007. Sen. Swecker’s colleague Senator Benton proposed two amendments mandating the referendum subsidy during debate on SB 5336, the bill that established the state’s Registered Domestic Partnership system. The first was in the Government Operations & Elections Committee executive session on February 1, 2007. The second was on the senate floor on March 1st (Amendment 30). Sen. Swecker voted for both amendments. They failed.
* 2008. Sen. Swecker showed up late to the Government Operations & Elections Committee session on February 25, 2008, and so was not present to pitch any subsidizing amendments or even debate on or vote against moving HB 3104 out of committee. HB 3104 expanded the rights and responsibilities of Registered Domestic Partnerships. However, the senator did manage to advance one such amendment on the Senate floor, Amendment 197. It failed to pass.
* 2009. Sen. Swecker out-did himself trying to slip a subsidy referendum for the anti-equality industry into SB 5688, the final Registered Domestic Partnership expansion bill. During the February 12, 2009 executive session of the Government Operations & Elections Committee, the senator pitched his usual subsidy referendum amendment. It failed, so he tried again on the Senate floor on March 10th (Amendment 32) and failed again.