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Most lawmakers align with their new districts on gay rights

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Feb. 9, 2012 at 9:00 am with No Comments »
February 9, 2012 12:25 pm

To understand the ‘no’ vote cast on gay marriage Wednesday by Rep. Steve Kirby, a Tacoman who usually sides with his fellow Democrats, it helps to look at how the people in his district voted in 2009 on the “everything but marriage” referendum.

No, not his current district, which turned down Referendum 71 by a somewhat narrow 52-to-48 margin. I’m talking about the district where he has to run this year. It’s still the 29th, but it has been reshaped by redistricting, and the new area defeated domestic partnership expansion by a near-landslide 55-to-45 margin.

The R-71 vote to expand domestic partnerships is imperfect as a gauge of a district’s opinion. Partnerships are not the same as marriage. And polls indicate a shift toward support of same-sex marriage in recent years.

But the partisan caucuses have crunched the numbers and lawmakers know how their new districts voted on R-71. In areas with strong support or opposition, most voted in concert with their constituents. In districts split down the middle, for example around Federal Way, Gig Harbor and Lakewood, local delegations split too.

A few took a political risk. Kirby’s fellow 29th Democrats, Sen. Steve Conway and Rep. Connie Ladenburg, supported and even co-sponsored the gay marriage bill. (Ladenburg is leaving to run for Pierce County Council). In the coastal 19th district, with about the same level of opposition from 2009, all three lawmakers voted yes.

Another supporter, 31-year-old freshman Sen. Joe Fain of Auburn, stands out from the group of six Republicans four Republican senators who voted yes because just 48 percent of his district voted for R-71. The other GOP yes votes come from districts where that is a pretty safe political move. They all voted for R-71 and support topped 64 percent in Sen. Steve Litzow‘s Mercer Island-Bellevue district.

A national group has promised to fund primary challengers to Republicans who vote for same-sex marriage.

But GOP Rep. Maureen Walsh’s district around Walla Walla voted 64-36 against partnerships — and Walsh, who voted for partnerships, still won re-election and survived to vote for same-sex marriage this year.

Among opponents of gay marriage who bucked their districts, there’s Democratic Sens. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam and Paull Shin of Edmonds and Republican Rep. Jay Rodne of North Bend. Rodne was a forceful voice against the bill though he hails from a district that supported R-71 by 54 percent, the only district where two Republican lawmakers voted yes.

One of the widest gulfs between local voters and their lawmaker on gay rights is the one between the 25th district and Sen. Jim Kastama, who acknowledged his vote wouldn’t be popular back home. Just 42 percent of his Puyallup-based district voted for R-71. Kastama isn’t seeking re-election, though; he’s running for secretary of state.

Statewide, 53 percent of voters supported R-71.

Here’s how local lawmakers voted and here’s how the old and new districts voted:

district…. R-71 support in old district ….. R-71 support in new district …. change
1 55.33% 56.45% 1.12%
2 39.50% 41.30% 1.80%
3 48.99% 47.91% -1.08%
4 34.00% 34.36% 0.36%
5 56.65% 54.14% -2.51%
6 42.16% 42.89% 0.73%
7 29.85% 31.05% 1.20%
8 35.81% 36.19% 0.38%
9 37.28% 35.12% -2.16%
10 50.74% 50.84% 0.10%
11 58.68% 56.98% -1.70%
12 37.66% 37.46% -0.20%
13 33.63% 33.15% -0.48%
14 37.15% 38.87% 1.72%
15 36.69% 32.24% -4.45%
16 35.32% 35.93% 0.61%
17 45.49% 44.39% -1.10%
18 39.88% 42.38% 2.50%
19 45.55% 44.60% -0.95%
20 39.54% 36.15% -3.39%
21 57.28% 56.94% -0.34%
22 62.67% 62.62% -0.05%
23 58.37% 58.03% -0.34%
24 54.74% 54.59% -0.15%
25 42.22% 42.32% 0.10%
26 49.16% 49.08% -0.08%
27 60.86% 60.45% -0.41%
28 49.77% 48.66% -1.11%
29 47.79% 45.28% -2.51%
30 49.66% 49.43% -0.23%
31 43.79% 43.80% 0.01%
32 66.47% 65.12% -1.35%
33 54.68% 55.49% 0.81%
34 76.12% 75.16% -0.96%
35 49.02% 49.60% 0.58%
36 85.03% 84.71% -0.32%
37 78.07% 77.80% -0.27%
38 51.53% 50.84% -0.69%
39 44.58% 44.53% -0.05%
40 61.38% 63.19% 1.81%
41 63.15% 64.44% 1.29%
42 48.15% 46.20% -1.95%
43 90.88% 91.00% 0.12%
44 48.68% 48.73% 0.05%
45 60.41% 60.68% 0.27%
46 81.82% 78.68% -3.14%
47 48.70% 47.83% -0.87%
48 64.60% 64.81% 0.21%
49 53.19% 53.13% -0.06%

UPDATED 12:25 p.m. to correct GOP comparison and add Walsh.

 

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