March 20, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Health risks have been supported with evidence
Was Bruce Ramsey at the same legislative hearing on Initiative 522 that I was at [“I-522: a test of what you believe about genetically modified foods,” Opinion, March 13]? Ramsey says that “most of the dispute was not whether there are health risks — supporters mostly said they didn’t know …”
To the complete contrary, the supporters of I-522 at the hearing vigorously asserted the many health risks of eating genetically modified organism (GMO) food. I was at the witness microphone when Rep. Cathy Dahlquist asked about health risks and I specifically answered her question by stating that scientific studies have linked GMOs to cancer (Seralini, et al, 2012), stomach and intestinal growths (Ewen and Pusztai, 1999), infertility (Velimirov, et al, 2008) and birth defects (Paganelli, et al, 2010).
There are no studies from the pro-GMO side suggesting that eating GMOs makes you healthier. GMO food are all risk and no benefit. Consumers should have the right not to take the risk. Vote yes on I-522 to label the GMOs.
–Tom Stahl, farmer, Waterville
March 15, 2013 at 4:00 PM
People have the right to know
It’s hard to believe that Bruce Ramsey is so uninformed about genetically modified foods, he’s not convinced they should be labeled [“I-522: a test of what you believe about genetically modified foods,” Opinion, March 13].
Genetic engineering of seeds for uniform growth and ripening results in a lack of genetic diversity and less resistance to disease. If one plant becomes infected, they all die because they’re all the same. That’s what caused the Irish Potato Famine, which killed thousands, and one reason to be wary about messing with Mother Nature.
Genetic engineering for profit is what’s really at issue here. Not convinced? Look around you, Mr. Ramsey. See the preponderance of big hips, big feet and even bigger butts everywhere? Are you aware of the high concentrations of GMO sugars in just about every product on supermarket shelves, or that any Iowa farmer will tell you the corn he raises to fatten beef cattle isn’t fit to eat?
It wasn’t bad enough that the labeling of foods irradiated with nuclear weapons waste to prolong shelf life was once the big controversy; now we must deal with the Frankenfoods created by Big Pharm’s takeover of most seed companies.
Wake up, Mr. Ramsey — people have a right to know what they’re eating.
Isa “Kitty” Mady, Montesano
March 13, 2013 at 4:30 PM
The people should not always have the final word
The Times keeps continuing its attack on the Supreme Court ruling on taxes so I am responding to the March 10 editorial telling legislators they should respect the people’s votes on the two-thirds tax-restriction initiative [“Lawmakers should heed voters on decisions about taxes,” Opinion, March 10].
This is a complete outrage. The Times still doesn’t believe that the state constitution does not support the two-thirds tax requirement. The editorial shamefully suggests that you can get the two-thirds requirements anyway by getting the legislators to support it by not voting for taxes, even if a majority support it. Why don’t you give it up and support our justices, who have made a decision on what the state constitution actually says?
A vote by the people in support of something unconstitutional does not make it right in our form of government, and that is a good thing.
–Michael Johnson, Kent
Supermajority allows for minority interests to trump majority
The Seattle Times in its recent editorial errs in it’s judgment that supermajority votes are somehow in the best interests of our state. Logic says that to require a supermajority vote to pass legislation means that the minority interest would trump the majority interest. Under Initiative 1185, if 17 State Senators out of 49 Senators said no to a revenue bill to fund education, they would prevail over any majority vote by both the state Senate and House.
As the state Supreme Court noted, “ … a supermajority requirement for ordinary legislation would allow special interests to control resulting legislation. While the current Supermajority Requirement applies only to tax increases, if carried to its logical conclusion, the State’s argument could allow all legislation to be conditioned on a supermajority vote. In other words, under the State’s reasoning, a simple majority of the people or the Legislature could require particular bills to receive 90 percent approval rather than just a two-thirds approval, thus essentially ensuring that those types of bills would never pass. Such a result is antithetical to the notion of a functioning government and should be rejected as such.”
–Steve Zemke, Seattle
March 12, 2013 at 4:30 PM
Vote is justified by Seattle’s population
Regarding the editorial of Sunday March 10 [“Lawmakers should heed voters on decisions about taxes,” Opinion], I seem to be confused about how state representation works. Could you help clear this up for me?
My understanding is that legislative districts are roughly figured on the basis of population and Seattle is the most populous part of the state. We hear a lot of grumbling from places outside of the Seattle Metro area on a wide range of political topics on a regular basis and this one seems to be no different. Seattle has more people and the rest of the state has acreage.
Isn’t that democratic, people vote and land doesn’t — unless someone is rigging the system?
–Richard Darby, Seattle
September 13, 2009 at 4:00 PM
A signature, like a vote, is private
I want to thank Judge Benjamin Settle for the courage to stop the release of names of people who signed Referendum 71 ["R-71 signatures kept private," page one, Sept. 11].
Even though I did not sign this one, as a private citizen I think of these petitions as a vote. In signing them, people are essentially voting for or against an issue.
In this country we keep our votes anonymous. If these names are released, everyone will be averse to ever signing a petition again for fear of retribution by the opponents of it.
I hope Settle has the intelligence to make this temporary injunction permanent.
– John Hed, Covington
Retribution is not free speech; signatures shouldn’t be disclosed
The threat of publicly releasing Referndum 71 signatures defines what’s wrong with today’s political discourse: self-interest.
I signed the petition not because I am against anybody, but because I believe in equality of opportunity rather than equality of result. I am 41, never married and sexually abstinent — not for lack of interest or desire but because of belief and conviction.
That said, I get no break on my health care for living a sexually risk-free life, nor do I enjoy the benefits of married couples or those living in domestic partnership. Equality of result would have me fight for those “rights.” Equality of opportunity informs me I will have those benefits, too, someday, should I marry the woman of my dreams.
I signed knowing someone might use my signature against me without knowing me or asking why. Disappointing for sure, but this is still America where we are free to take sides, free to speak up and free to love our neighbors when the dust clears.
I disagree with releasing R-71 names and making them public. Not because I am afraid, but because hatred, anger, retribution and political expediency should never be masked under the guise of free speech.
– Justin Kawabori, Redmond
Signing a referendum also supports direct democracy
As a teacher of Washington-state history I want to explain that not all the people who signed the petition to put Referendum 71 on the ballot oppose extending domestic-partnership rights.
I teach my students about the initiative and referendum process in my class, and we discuss what they will need to consider when they are asked to sign one.
What a citizen is agreeing to is that they want to have that issue come to a statewide vote. In this case, we may have people who signed it because they like direct democracy and believe citizens should be able to vote on as many laws as possible. Or people may have signed it because they believe a statewide vote will get rid of the law, or people may have signed it because they believe a statewide vote will keep the law.
My point is the assumption that all the people who signed it did so for the same reason is not true.
– Todd Beuke, Sequim
September 7, 2009 at 4:00 PM
A loving home, a life among discrimination
I will be voting to approve Referendum 71 to provide legal protections for couples and families like mine.
My same-sex wife — we were married in Canada — and I are raising two children. Our son is a special-needs child, and our daughter is an honor student who will be a high-school junior this year.
My wife and I co-own our home, have combined bank accounts and live as a married couple in every way. Our household of two kids, two cats, two fish and a yellow lab is a busy one, filled with love and laughter, joy and tears and is deserving of all of the protections and respect of any other.
I am a Metro transit operator, and my wife is an administrative registered nurse with a company providing assisted-living services. We abide by all of the laws of this state and country, pay our taxes and are responsible members of our community.
Despite this, when I was injured at work recently and opened a Labor and Industries claim, I was told my claim would be filed as single with no dependents and that I would be receiving a reduced benefit.
Not only are my wife and I being discriminated against in this instance but our children are as well. Please join me in making Washington a state that protects and respects all of its citizens.
– Nancy Suppe, Bothell
Let couples that stand a chance be married
I have managed to be married and divorced three times before turning 45. Thankfully, I knew I wasn’t good parent material so I avoided advancing that defective gene set. I’ve also managed to stay unmarried for 20 years and counting.
I am completely offended with the notion that extended rights for domestic partnerships is in any way a threat to me, any marriage I ever had or any marriage anyone else has had or may have.
I want to support and defend any couple that has the courage, commitment and optimism to get married. If their church doesn’t have an issue marrying same-sex partners, why should I? As for the state, it’s a civil-rights issue. Nothing more, nothing less!
My marriages should not be defended. They failed. I favor marriages that stand a chance.
Can we wake up with civility, humanity and basic human rights and see Referendum 71 for what it is?
– Sandy Person, Redmond
For the love of families, support extended partnership rights
Thanks for your editorial in support of all Washington families ["Basic fairness, equality for Washington families," editorial, Sept. 2].
To voters who would deny me and my family equal rights, I’m not afraid to let you know who I am.
My partner and I met when we were Peace Corps volunteers 23 years ago. We’ve traveled the world together. We’ve cared for each other in illness, in job loss, in moves across the country. We’ve stood by each other when each of our fathers passed away. Our lives are about love, joy, laughing, dark chocolate and being good stewards of this world.
In our child-raising years, we’ve become part of communities that include gay and straight parents. We sit side by side at our kids’ talent shows — beaming with equal pride. We share advice and tips on the latest phase in our kids’ development. We go to our jobs or are looking for work. As a community we’ve come together to support each other in our greatest losses and unite for our shared concerns. What is gained by discriminating against any family?
For the love of all families, support equality. Now that it appears destined for the ballot, vote yes on Referendum 71.
– Cathie Bachy, Seattle
September 4, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Washington is a place of equality
Editor, The Times:
I was elated to read your editorial ["Basic fairness, equality for Washington families," Opinion, Sept. 2] encouraging voters to approve Referendum 71, upholding the domestic-partnership law, when it comes to the ballot this fall.
The Washington I know is a place where people of all different races, backgrounds, creeds and, yes, sexual orientations can live together in respect, tolerance and equality. It is on those values I hope voters will base their decision on Ref. 71.
This November, voters will face one question: Should this law be approved? I hope voters will also ask themselves another question: Should someone be allowed to commit themselves to someone they love? Truly, that’s all this issue asks, and there’s only one, simple answer.
Yes, I am a gay man. But I reject the notion that I am intrinsically inferior to others because of this. I hope voters will, too, by turning out to approve Referendum 71.
– Tucker Cholvin, Snohomish
Keep the conversation in the realm of executive responsibilities
King County executive candidates Dow Constantine and Susan Hutchison have weighed in on marriage benefits for same-sex partners. Now what?
This illustrates how far off base we have drifted in how we choose our elected officials and why they seem so incompetent when in office. Voters and the press continue to ask questions and probe positions that, while interesting, are irrelevant to officials’ jobs.
The current example of Referendum 71 and King County executive shows how we drift in how we choose our executive. What does Ref. 71 have to do with overseeing Metro transit and managing the aspects of the county that person is responsible for? Nothing.
Why don’t we get back to basics, and see how they are qualified for the job, not how they feel about social and political issues that are out of the scope of their jobs? While it may satisfy our curiosity to know how they feel about same-sex marriage, health-care reform or other popular debates, it obfuscates how competent they will be at the everyday tasks of their jobs.
That suitability will affect us directly. Valuing how they feel about Ref. 71 and other issues is exactly why Mayor Greg Nickels is being booted: He expended more effort toward posturing on global climate change and provided incompetent direct response to the snowfall in Seattle when that was the climate change he should have focused on.
King County executive hopefuls should be focusing on their executive skills, not political skills. Otherwise it’s just another snow job.
– Bob Johnson, Mercer Island
For referendum signers, no special protection
The attempts to block the release of petition-signer information by the backers of Referendum 71 ["Foes sue to block Referendum 71; backers can't hide donors' names," NWFriday, Aug. 28] reminds me of a sketch from 1977′s crude “The Kentucky Fried Movie.”
The sketch has a daredevil wearing a fire suit, helmet and gloves walk up to a group of black men, yell the “n-word” at the top of his lungs and then run for his life.
The difference is that Ref. 71′s heroes want to replace the protective suit with blindfolds for the rest of us. The notion that the despicable and malicious nature of their speech entitles the signers’ to special protections from public censure is an absurd and disturbing perversion of the First Amendment.
– Jonathan Kallay, Seattle
Ref. 71 could be an infectious change
I predict Referendum 71 is going to become a big deal and a defining moment in the history of gay rights.
People have been choked by Proposition 8 in California passing. People have learned. This won’t happen again. It will be the beginning of a “Yes, we can” movement that is much bigger than the gay movement, a movement of “Yes, we can take care of our society and our people, no matter who they are.”
It will go well beyond Washington state.
– Emma Le Du, Seattle
August 13, 2009 at 4:02 PM
There’s a reason they want to hide
What comes around goes around. Isn’t it ironic, as reported by Lornet Turnbull ["Should donor names be secret," page one, Aug. 12] that the proponents of Referendum 71, who are attempting to harass and threaten the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community by denying us our constitutional rights, are now upset about being intimidated themselves?
They are both cowardly and hypocritical, thus proving themselves to be the weak-kneed bigots that they are (justly) called.
Supporters of controversial causes who are on the side of justice, freedom and equality have no desire to hide, despite real threats. These brave souls have been on the front lines of promoting the human values of tolerance and freedom, and many gave their lives for these causes. We should never forget their sacrifices.
However, those who side with the bigots always choose deception and secrecy. Perhaps the Referendum 71 backers should also don white hoods.
By the way, for those who support marriage and domestic partnership equality for all, the correct vote is yes for Referendum 71.
– Michael Jacobs, Seattle
The PDC’s job is to keep government open
It’s pretty simple. The Public Disclosure Commission of Washington state is an official agency. They list the names and hometowns of donors and signers to all public campaigns and candidates, the amount of their contributions and their place of employment. It’s the law.
We have a transparent government referendum system that applies to everybody in the same way. Everyone who signs or donates to a referendum will have their name made public. Most people would be proud to stand by their convictions and have their name attached to a referendum they signed on to.
I guess Republicans aren’t very proud of their Referendum 71 activity. They don’t want anyone to know who supports their referendum. Individually, they deny they are part of the anti-gay movement, yet collectively, they sign on and finance these referendums and then use expensive, high-powered lawyers to obscure who does what.
– Doug Morrison, Seattle
No reason to hide this information
Citizens who prize civil liberties strongly support our state’s public-records and freedom-of-information laws. Yet we understand why the lists of donors to the Socialist Workers Party were rightly kept secret — Trotskyites had suffered seven decades of physical violence/deportation/loss of employment and the like. The fears of the SWP were demonstrably real.
On the other hand, the backers of Referendum 71 are urging nondisclosure of their donors’ identities solely on conjectural grounds. No church has ever been firebombed by a posse of dykes on bikes. The fact that some person has posted intemperate remarks on a blog site hardly rises to the same level of well-founded fear.
Should any one person be able to casually overturn established state policy by something as evanescent as an Internet posting? (Wouldn’t this give an incentive to supporters of a referendum or initiative to post such comments themselves?)
I hope the Public Disclosure Commission carefully considers this aspect of the dispute it now has put on its Aug. 27 agenda.
– Phil Bereano, Seattle
I empathize with the clients of Steven Pigeon, attorney for Protect Marriage Washington.
Some people don’t need to support referendums to be vulnerable to “bullying, harassment and threats of violence,” they just need to walk down the street holding their same-sex partner’s hand or, even worse, try to get married.
– Brett Moyer, Seattle
The Christian view
The question I always find myself asking when it comes to gay marriage is this: What would Jesus think about it? The reason this question comes up is because the vast majority of groups that are opposed to gay marriage claim to be Christian and acting in the best interests of Christianity.
Jesus worked tirelessly for the poor, the downtrodden, the marginalized, the sick, the discarded. He invoked the Old Testament when he instructed people to love thy neighbor as thyself. Jesus was concerned about people being treated equally. I can’t imagine that he would have wanted today’s Christians to work so feverishly to keep a particular group unequal.
Not to mention, not everyone in this country is Christian. Why should I have to submit to your religious laws when I do not attend a Christian church or ascribe to a Christian creed? This country was founded on the basis of religious freedom and tolerance. Besides, Senate Bill 5688 concerns law, not religion.
Imagine if all of these “Christian” people who have worked so hard for this referendum put their energies toward helping the homeless, the orphaned, the abused, the infirm — like Jesus did. So much good could be accomplished.
– Sabath Mullet, Issaquah
August 12, 2009 at 3:17 PM
Seductive measure would limit our prosperity
You should be concerned about Initiative 1033 in the upcoming fall election. Before being seduced by the promise of lowered property taxes, please think about the devastating consequences of this initiative, which would limit future government spending to the current year’s budget:
1) Washington’s unemployment rate is nearing 8 percent and is expected to get worse. How do people recover? They go back to school. How will the (already struggling) public higher-education system be able to respond to the increased demand without increased government funding? They won’t.
2) Washington is exposed to myriad natural disasters. How does a community recover after a devastating earthquake or volcanic eruption? Government funds, agencies and programs. How will our community be able to effectively respond in the next disaster if this initiative passes? It won’t.
3) Washington’s population continues to grow. How does a community deal with population growth, while maintaining infrastructure, housing and social service needs? It doesn’t.
If the property tax is a make or break issue for you, then sell and buy cheaper property. Sure, we don’t want to pay it, but a yes vote on I-1033 would severely limit our ability to grow and prosper as a community.
– Mike Nurse, Seattle
August 6, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Lessons to learn from California’s Prop. 8
It appears California’s Proposition 8 of last year has spawned a Northwest imitator in our own Referendum 71, which now seems likely to appear on the November ballot here in Washington.
Proponents of gay rights should frame their response to this measure after considering the precedent of California, where a well-funded campaign against gay marriage mobilized religious people and won at the ballot box. We must avoid making the same mistakes as Prop. 8′s opponents if we are to preserve the civil rights of gay couples in Washington.
Washington gay-rights groups plan to combat this measure by publicly exposing the signers of the Ref. 71 petition, but this petty tactic did more harm than good in the fight to save gay marriage in California. Rather than resorting to name-calling and negative campaigning, Washington activists should seize this opportunity to advance the case for equal rights and address the religious objections to their views.
We might as well take advantage of our position in the shadow of the Golden State. The greatest tragedy would be if Ref. 71 should pass despite the obvious advantage of knowing how the same debate played out in California.
– Walter Martin Smith, Seattle
Agenda-driven citizens forget others disagree
Here’s the answer to how Referendum 71 gathered enough signatures to be on the ballot ["137,689 names later, gay community asks: How did they do it?" page one, August 3]. Look no further than the first sentence of the article, “The odds seemed almost insurmountable.”
There seems to be a disconnect with agenda-driven citizens, our governor included, in the belief that everyone agrees with them. In this case it led to a surprise for the gay-rights activists.
There are a great many of us who desire to keep the definition of marriage as a legal and/or spiritual union between a man and a woman. Not because we hate gays, not because we fear gays, not for religious reasons or fear of change — but simply because marriage is between a man and a woman. Please accept this as a difference of opinion. I respect your right to your opinion, now please respect mine.
Regarding the recent University of Washington poll suggesting 77 percent of voters believe gay and lesbian couples should have at least some of the same benefits as married couples. This can be accomplished with a civil union. I am not opposed to the recognition of gay and lesbian families as Josh Friedes of Washington Families Standing Together also states, but I am just opposed to same-sex marriage.
It has been very frustrating to be confronted with vitriolic rhetoric concerning my intelligence and character when opposing these issues. I agree voters need to look ahead in their consideration of Ref. 71 because it is critical stepping stone to same-sex marriage, not a step everyone wants to take.
– Deanna Sundvick, Woodinville
Gregoire’s delay tactic only hurt cause, process
What people should be angry about as Bill Dubay, a longtime gay activist, puts it, is Gov. Chris Gregoire’s delaying tactic by signing the legislation as late as she could to interfere with the referendum process and the attempted extortion by other activists regarding the signers’ names being published online.
Dubay should redirect his concerns to explaining his position clearly and with the thought of what this legislation can or cannot accomplish for the general public. Many signers of the petition may have signed because of the tampering with the referendum process by the governor and gay activists.
I know I would have.
– Brad Olschefski, Bellevue
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