While much of the nation's attention has been focused on the sad story of Prop 1 in Maine, another much happier story has been unfolding in Washington where the gay and lesbian community took another step toward equality with the approval of Referendum 71.
R-71 expands domestic-partnership rights, and has been called the "everything but marriage" bill. The referendum expands the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of registered domestic partners and their families to include all rights, responsibilities, and obligations granted by or imposed by state law on married couples and their families.
So while it may rightfully frustrate same-sex marriage supporters that the state still insists upon treating gays as a specialized class unworthy of the "marriage" title, R-71's passage is still a sign of a broader move toward equality. Simply, it means Washington is becoming more pro-gay, and that full rights are within reach.
During the lead-up to the vote on R-71, a new group named the "Youth Revolution" emerged in Washington. Though the organization claims to represent "teens" and "20-somethings," the group has ties to the Family Policy Institute of Washington, which funneled around $200,000 into a campaign PAC in an effort to defeat R-71. The connection between Youth Revolution and FPIW is Russell Johnson, the Executive Director of Youth Revolution, and Director of Governmental Affairs for James Dobson's Focus on the Family/Family Research Council, an affiliate of FPIW.
But wait! You're thinking that young people are totally more pro-gay than old people, and YR is wasting a lot of time and money trying to curb a national movement toward egalitarianism. Just look at this helpful illustration of the majestic way mother nature kills bigots:
Looks to me like the nation is getting more tolerant of gays and gay marriage, and Washington state is ninth on that list. Someone better tell Russell Johnson and YR!
Or maybe we shouldn't waste our breath. After all, we're talking about an organization that thinks this kind of thing appeals to young people (this video is currently featured on YR's website):
Hopefully, this will lead to more widespread layoffs at the Focus on the Family lair as it did in the wake of the Yes on Prop 8 campaign when FoF had to fire 202 employees, or 20 percent of their workforce, just to pay the half a million dollar bill the group acquired whilst destroying gay marriages.
Say it with me: Good riddance. Good riddance to intolerance and hatred.
Update: The original article stated that "Youth Revolution" poured money into the WA Race. It was actually Family Policy Institute of WA that funneled the $200,000, not Youth Revolution. The connection between the organizations is Russell Johnson, but it was FPIW that dumped $200,000 into a campaign PAC. Also, Focus on the Family did about $91,000 worth of independent spending on top of that. However, YR did create and distribute voters guides that were based on the personal political choices of Joe Fuiten, a local preacher who happens to be on the FPIW board. You can find the voter guides posted on the YR website.