SPOKANE — The Moran Prairie Grange caucus site brimmed with as many varied opinions about local politics as it did people. The hot topic of the day was same-sex marriage, and the attendees did not shy away from sharing.
For Dennis Beringer, a former reserve police officer and a retired real estate agent, the issue was black and white. Marriage was between a man and a woman in his view, and Beringer was passionately unhappy with Governor Christine Gregoire and the Democratic legislature for deciding otherwise.
“Why didn’t it go to the voters in the first place?” he said. He suggested a voter referendum to appreciative nods and a few exclamations from his precinct crowd.
If the people of Washington upheld the ruling, however, Beringer would abide. It would not fall in line with his values or beliefs, he said, but “the law of the land is the law of the land.”
Julie Boehrig moved to Spokane eight years ago from San Diego. It was the first caucus for the Newt Gingrich supporter, and she said immigration was her key social issue. For her, the controversies over contraception were a “dead issue” that distracted from the real problems. Gay marriage, however, was not. Specifically, when California’s courts overturned Proposition 8, she shared Beringer’s “people’s choice” reasoning.
“We voted. It was decided,” Boehrig insisted. “It shouldn’t be up to any judge. They think they’re above the law.”
Yet Boehrig said she had no problem with gay relationships. If someone has decided to spend a lifetime with another person, they each should have hospital visitation and other rights, she said. She just doesn’t agree with the term marriage: “Maybe we need a different word.”
Contrary to other attendees, social issues did not figure into the “broader picture” for Joseph Harari. The Israeli-born veterinarian was at the Grange to support Mitt Romney in order to keep America capitalist.
“[Immigrants] are coming here to rise,” he said. “That’s the beauty and the strength of this country.”
Harari’s final verdict was that abortion and gay marriage were private issues. He cautioned against voting for one-issue candidates, doubting their electability in a broad electorate.
“This country is more than one issue, you can’t let that be overemphasized,” he said.