Republican in Washington State legislature delivers emotional address in support of gay marriage

Here's Washington State rep Maureen Walsh, a Republican, explaining to her colleagues why her she was breaking with the party line and voting in favor of same-sex marriage. It's an emotional, moving address, and Walsh, together with one of her GOP colleagues, helped carry the motion, paving the way for legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington State.

You know, years ago, my daughter went to, she was in elementary school. Many of you have met my daughter. She’s a fabulous girl. She’s wonderful. My boys are great too, but my daughter is just something special, and she was the light of her father’s eyes. And she went to school and there were some kids that were, a whole group of kids that were picking on another kid. And you know, my daughter stood up for that kid, even though it was not the popular thing to do. She knew it was the right thing to do. And I was never more proud of my kid, knowing that she was speaking against the vocal majority on behalf of the rights of the minority.

And to me, it is incumbent upon us as legislators in this state to do that. That is why we are here, and I shudder to think that if folks who had proceeded us in history did not do that, frankly I’m not sure I would be here as a woman. I’m not sure that others would be here due to their race, or their creed. And to me, that is what’s disconcerting.

The Most Powerful Argument For Gay Marriage From A Republican


  1. While her comments are good arguments, I’m a little troubled:
    If her daughter hadn’t told her that she was gay, would ms. Walsh have voted against the motion?  Would ms. Walsh have been unable to come up with any other argument that she likes her daughter and would like to be able to throw her a party if her daughter wanted to get married?

    How about because freedom of choice is a fiercely defended right in our society.  Or because church/state separation is a good thing.

    Or maybe even, y’know, because it’s the right thing to do?

    1.  She did say it is a matter of equality. She did point out how important it is to defend the rights and freedoms of all people. She also used her daughter being gay as a point, but it was by no means the only reason she claimed to be in favour of gay marriage.

    2. Sometimes, all it takes is the opportunity to have a real conversation with a real human being to make you see the light, so while I follow your line of questioning, I think she’s doing the right thing for the right reasons.

      I think the problem is that more people either don’t have the opportunity to have these conversations, or are unwilling to listen. Hopefully, this impassioned statement can go towards changing this.

      1. And this is the curse of any large hierarchy. The people on the top makes all the rules but are so removed from those at the bottom, that they may as well exist in different realities.

        And this is before one take into account the issues one can observe in any game of telephone. When a unarmed old lady on a bike can turn into a ageless, sexless vietcong with a grenade, you know your up shit creek and sinking…

    3.  I get your point, but other famous republicans (Cheney, Gingrich, Schlafly, Keyes) have a gay child or family member and haven’t stepped up in this fashion.   She deserves some respect for talking. 

        1.  And that is the messy angle of US politics. There may be two “parties”, but each have so many sub-factions that it becomes insane. Never mind that the current assumed roles of the parties have flipped 180 since WW2.

          1. Yeah. Even I know that in the UK. Here the party system has flipped in the sense that the party system was created to serve MPs, and MPs served their constituents – MPs regularly changed parties. Now MPs serve their parties and their potential ministerial careers depend on toeing the party line – with three line whipping and so on. When the ‘masses’ get to vote it is a cynical way to minimise their influence and depoliticise them.

      1. Dick Cheney literally pulse (he uses a continuous flow artificial heart). He is the spawn of Satan and an all around shit head. That said, he does supports gay marriage, if not particularly loudly, because he does in fact have a gay daughter.

        It is pretty telling that you can take a nasty little bible wielding shithead, force them to confront the issue head on, and when push comes to shove, they can’t tell their gay daughter or son that they should never be allowed to be married because of their fucked up (im)moral belief system.  

        I wish more anti-gay marriage assholes had to make that personal decision to tell their children to fuck off and die because they don’t like the gender of their lovers.  There are certainly plenty of shit heads in this world that can do this, but most crack under the pressure.  It should be a telling lesson to those that are anti-gay marriage that their heroes tend to crack when their children turn out to be gay, but generally maintaining that level of bigotry involves a lot of not thinking.

      2. Dick Cheney publicly supports gay marriage by state.  Has for a few years now. 

        And incidentally, Ted Olson, Bush Jr’s Solicitor General, was one of the two people who filed suit to overturn Prop 8.

        1.  Cheney’s spoke up about when he was pretty much already  an Eldritch Statesman, well after the 2004 elections.  He could have brought it up while he was ruler of the free world. 

    4. Or maybe even, y’know, because it’s the right thing to do?

      Successful movements are almost always broad-based, which means some people doing it because it’s the right thing and some people doing it because they’re obsessed with Jodie Foster.  I’ll take what I can get.

      1. Yep.  I think Rep. Walsh’s support is actually not just about her daughter – that wasn’t the only point she made, after all – but as far as I’m concerned, anyone who supports marriage equality just because they have a gay kid…  still supports it.  So that’s fine, then.

        How cool would it be to realize that by coming out to your parents you helped change an unjust law?  Awesome.

  2. I’m surprised her party didn’t have her hauled away and burned at the stake. Wonder if she’ll still be around (as a Republican) next election cycle….

    1. First off, “no to gay marriage” isn’t part of the Republican party platform. Do some of them oppose it? Yes. But hardly everyone who votes republican feels that way. Just like not every Democrat supports gun control (or every Republican opposes it).  And while “no to gay marriage” isn’t part of the Democrat party platform, how many of them voted to end it in California?

      We need to look past party lines and find more people with some reason left in their heads.

      1. First off, “no to gay marriage” isn’t part of the Republican party platform. 

        What?? Nonsense.

        Here’s the 2008 official Republican party platform (hey, it turns out there actually is such a thing!), under “Values”:

        Because our children’s future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

          1. I’m disgusted by how little you suddenly have to say on this point, now that you’ve been shown wrong.

          2.  What I have to say is the same as before:

            1) If the gov. is giving out marriage licenses, then they have to do it for everyone.

            2) One has to look past party lines to see who actually is a good candidate.

        1. This is an excellent example of why we have the government that we have. People vote without even bothering to read the political positions of the Prom Queen Nominees candidates.

      2. “Do some of them oppose it?”  “some”?!  change that to “not entirely every republican opposes it” and then you won’t be seen as a dissembler and apologist.   And yes, “party lines” suck, so you do your part to get tea partiers to not continue to make the current congress the most uneffective in history (and to properly use the phrase “Democratic party”), and i’ll do my part to get Obama to compromise with your part …oh, wait.

      3. Yeah, when 100% of the GOP congressmen voted against it in New York State (the first time it came up for a vote, a few years ago) it was clear that this was the party line.   It took a huge influx of cash from gay marriage advocates to convince four of them to switch sides, because they were all afraid of the backlash from the conservative “base.”

        Generally speaking, you see a HUGE tendency toward orthodoxy in the republican presidential campaign right now.   Questioning received assumptions (as Newt did in the earliest days of his campaign) provokes an instant negative reaction.

      4. I’m pretty sure that we’re going to get that Third Party that we’re always asking for.  I think that the Republican Party will split into the Fiscal Conservatives and the Batshit Crazies.  Then the Democratic Party will split into the Fiscal Conservatives and the Progressives/Social Democrats.  Then the Fiscal Conservatives will meet in the middle.

        The moral of the story being that the Tea Party, by being so intransigent, will marginalize itself and leave two out of three parties with at least a moderately progressive social platform.

        1. I’ve been thinking this would happen for a while now, and so far there’s been enough institutional inertia to prevent it.  

        2. Well,  if it happens anything like it did in the great white north, the batshit party will be led by some affable but ineffective uber-libertarian, who won’t get any seats outside of rural areas and cowboy towns. (Ron Paul?)

          Then he’ll pass on the reins to an even less effective guy, who shows off how fit he is as though that qualifies him for office, (Huntsman?) which will leave the door open for the takeover by the steely strategist.

          *This* guy will then kick out the batshits who insist on shooting their mouths off about the battiest notions (though American standards on battiest do seem to be somewhat lower than ours, they’re not nonexistent) like reptilian overlords and whatnot. (If it’s truly ironic, this will of course be Mittens himself!)

          Then he takes over the fiscal conservatives, keeps everyone on an extremely short leash, and keeps plugging away until he becomes God-King.

          He has only been in full power a year. Yes, we are scared.


  3. Scoff!  Republicans not eating babies and defending gay marriage? Unpossible! Her Reptillian control chip must be on the fritz.

    But seriously, nice speech. If the gov. wants to hand out marriage licenses then they need to do it for all.

  4. To me, the most salient point wasn’t that she had a gay daughter. It was her remembering of her relationship with her husband, and saying, “It isn’t about the sex.”  Relationships, and families, are made up of so much more than two people getting it on.  Many anti-gay advocates are so focused on sexual ACTS that they can’t distinguish that from what it means to have a committed relationship with someone one loves.
    (Insert possible santorum joke here.)

    1. Yep. Frankly it doesn’t say much about their views on heterosexual marriages either if they think that way. 

  5. Republicans  “do the right thing” for personal benefit. Not because it’s the right thing to do.

    As a member of the GOP, she provides real support for it’s odious policies, including its anti-gay agenda.

    1. I don’t think the whole party is “anti-gay”. I guess they are on the marriage issue. Still –

      ETA – the reason for my defending a party I am really very lukewarm to is because people are taking this opportunity to take someone stepping out from the party line and doing what is right. Instead of “bravo!” we hear “Arrggh, woman baby eater only doing this for personal gain. Arrggghh. Wants gay daughter to move out of basement to make room for more baby eating. ARRGGLGEEE!”

      Then some take this opportunity to just take swipes at the party they hate, making over generalizations, and taking the time to criticize in a moment that should be applauded. And never mind the fact that enough Democrats oppose it to have voted it illegal in California. It is not strictly a party issue – it’s a people issue.

      Time to blur our eyes to the “party” and look at who is doing a good/just job.

      1. Your party, Maureen Walsh’s party, sucks and is ridiculous. It’s perfectly OK to point that out. In fact the only reason this is news is because this woman has an (R) next to her name, yet somehow a reasonable opinion came out of her mouth. Lightning strikes!

        Just stop blathering and admit your party is fascist.

        1.  re: “…yet somehow a reasonable opinion came out of her mouth.”

          You should hear some of the things out of the Democrat’s mouths. You are right, the Republicans suck and are ridiculous – but I haven’t seen anything different in the Democrats. They have their pet issues but the two sides aren’t really that far apart – and lately both sides have been putting power of the party and their personal gain above what is best for America.

          1. Yes, but the Republicans are especially ridiculous and you know it. Come on. It’s impossible to distinguish actual right-wing positions from parody anymore.

          2. tessuraea
            They aren’t that different. Like I said they have their pet issues: gun control, abortion, gay marriage, etc. But if you look past these issues they aren’t doing much anything different. They put themselves first, 1/2 of them are millionaires out of touch with the rest of the world, party politics has eclipsed working for the nation, etc, etc.

            And for what it’s worth, there are gay republicans working to change things from the inside.

          3.  ZOMG – I don’t follow this topic as closely as others obviously do. And my point was they are people trying to change the attitudes of the GOP – the fact they were shut out of CPAC doesn’t meant they are going to stop trying.

          4. When the Republican Party has expelled gay groups from any of its functions, I feel quite comfortable saying that there are no gay Republicans, just gay people with Republican wannabe fantasies.

      2. The party is anti-gay.  Occasional members of it are not, but the party definitely is.

        The Log Cabin Republicans notwithstanding.

        Also, if you’re anti-gay on “the marriage issue” you’re anti-gay, period.  If you don’t want gay people to have equal access to an institution of the state, you’re anti-gay.  It doesn’t matter how many gay friends you have or how much you like Ellen.

        Yes, this means some gay people are anti-gay.  There are women who think women shouldn’t be allowed to vote, too.  It happens.

  6. Out of the mouths of babes.

    Why is it children, even raised in these types of environments, can overcome and know on some level bullying others is wrong.
    That just because everyone else is doing something, doesn’t mean it is right.
    That the majority thrives on everyone supporting them, and sometimes it takes standing up for what is right… not what is popular with the “cool kids”.
    Maybe if their parents had taught them that lesson the Republicans could be seen as human, rather than people who need to maintain their position while standing on the faces of their victims.

    1. Eh, there was quite possibly something in her upbringing (say, religious instruction that taught her to think of herself as different, and an underdog, or the Good Samaritan parable) that led to her applying that lesson in real life.

      That’s part of the irony of the GOP position.  The principles are there to support gay marriage (freedom for individuals, the government shouldn’t tell me how to live etc.) – the adults are just way too selective in how they apply them.

  7. I think that I had learned that lesson somewhere around age 13 and it certainly wasn’t talked about with my parents. 

    The fact that this is a revelation is why, every election cycle, its nearly impossible to get myself to cast a vote. If you can look at the trend of minority rights throughout US (indeed Global) history and not see that equal rights being enshrined for homosexuals is inevitable, you aren’t competent to effectively manage a McDonald’s.

    Try watching the US high-school debate finals before the first Presidential debate. It’ll turn you off from voting permanently. The candidates would get absolutely shredded by the high-schoolers.

    I could go on, but thinking about this makes me sad.

    1.  I agree.  Part of the issue here is age.  I see myself as a Republican and support gay marriage, but then again I’m 32.  My parents lean a little harder to the right than I do, but even if they didn’t I don’t think they could support gay marriage.  They are mid/late 60’s and being gay wasn’t something that was socially acceptable when they were kids.  (And being from the South that goes  more so..)  They never raised me to fear or hate or anything evil, they taught me to accept people and respect them.  So logically I see no down side to letting two people who love each other get married.  Frankly with the divorce rate where it is the sanctity of marriage has kind of fallen by the way side…

      In another 40-50 years I expect the gay marriage issue to kind of be like all the other social issues of the last 50+ years.  Why were we so ignorant?

  8. Neither of the major political parties in the US has ever nominated anyone for president who was pro-gay marriage. Someday, they both will. Until then, Roseanne is running for president on the Green Party ticket.

  9. I posted this clip yesterday on my G+ stream. Now I’m reading the comments here and I see a lot of people who are writing that she is doing it for personal gain because of her own daughter.

    And: I agree. She is.

    (WARNING: Genralizations below)

    The thing is, I think it shows the conservative way of thinking. Conservatives don’t like any sort of change – putting aside the fundamentalists and evangelical nuts who are dominating the entire party right now. Conservatism is basically about trying to have as little change as possible, which is why so many of them want to go back to their “ideal” of a white America with white picket fences and Leave It To Beaver episodes, in some way.

    It’s only when life hits Conservatives in the face in a rather dreadful way that they start talking about fixing or changing things.

    And here you have yet another example of it. But, does that make it wrong? The fact is: she realized that being anti-gay was wrong – whatever it took to make her realize it. I’d rather she would have deduced this on her own using empathy without it being personal, but the result is the same: she finally accepted that things have to change.

    So, I can only commend her on her stance. I know that she’s an incredibly rare breed in the GOP today, but there have been some notable exceptions to the rule (i.e.: Ted Olsen). We should honestly support those people who change their views to more humanitarian ones, regardless of if it is the result of a personal situation which made them “see the light”.

    The fact is that most conservatives are the kind to throw their children out into the street for revealing that they are gay. When a few of them reject that line of action and accept them rather than reject them…we should compliment them on their humanity.

    I not only commend her for her acceptance and support of legalizing gay marriage, I also am glad she gave such a wonderful speech on the subject. I probably won’t agree with her on much in other areas, seeing as she is in the GOP, but I can’t help but be happy that she is doing the right thing here.

    1. Speaking for myself, I’m not saying that ms. Walsh is doing it for personal gain.  I’m asking the question whether she would have suported the motion if she hadn’t known her child was gay.  Does anyone here (or on your G+ stream) know her personally?

      I was troubled because her statement reminded me of so many times I’ve seen politicians take, what on the surface are, courageous stand, only to reveal that their minds were changed by an incident that affected them personally.  And how seldom we hear hear politicians taking surprisingly principled stands.

      Three examples somewhat related to what I’m asking:
      First: At the time that Canada legalized gay marriage, Prime Minister Paul Martin said: “The vote is about the Charter of Rights.  We’re a nation of minorities and in a nation of minorities you don’t cherry-pick rights.”

      Second: In the lead-up to the Iraq war, George Bush asked Canada to join the USA in invading Iraq.  Jean Chretien, in Question Period (a tradition that the US could use) said: “”The diplomatic process was bringing positive results. That was the view of the Canadian government. It was not, obviously, the view of the American government. We can have a disagreement there. I still feel given a few more weeks disarmament would have been achieved.”

      Later on, in an interview, after explaining that without a UN resolution, he wouldn’t join the US, said: “If we change every government we don’t like in the world where do we start? Who is next?”

      Third: Pierre Trudeau, then Minister of Justice, explaining his Omnibus bill in December 1967 in a quote that every Canadian schoolchild can recite by heart: “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation,” continuing, “what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code.”

      So, three somewhat controversial issues, three principled explanations – essentially “It’s the right thing to do.” None of the three politicians needing personal/family situations to explain their ‘Road to Damascus’.

      1. Though I agree with his statement, Trudeau was a swinger, so he did have a personal motive behind it. I’m very happy that Chretien was still in power when the decision to join the US in invading Iraq came up. I expect Martin would’ve caved in and Harper would have joined gladly.

      2. I don’t know when her daughter came out, but Walsh voted in favor of Washington’s previous “everything but marriage” domestic partnership expansion in 2009, then as now breaking party ranks.

  10. A very touching, moving speech, to put it VERY mildly.

    This woman cited the memory of her own marriage and the tragic loss of her husband as the benchmark on which she based her decision and her comments. She’s definitely not your typical mean-assed Tea Party wack-job (I don’t know her voting record, I’m only going on what I saw here; if she was faking her emotions, she should be nominated for an Oscar. But I suspect she was not faking).

    And to concur with Ms. Walsh,  “domestic partnership” sounds a little too much like “separate but equal” for my liking.

    I don’t believe in marriage myself. Any institution with a minimum failure rate of 1 out of every 2 is one that needs at least serious re-examination. Having said that, I still want same-sex couples to have the opportunity to enjoy the same legal and financial privileges and protections as their heterosexual  friends & neighbors.

    Bravissimo, Representative Walsh.

  11. Speaking as someone who actually comes from the area, has met and talked with miss Walsh (and bought some of her family’s excellent sweet-onion sausages), I can say with 100% certainty she’s being genuine here.

    1. Thank you for this!  I thought she seemed genuine, but it’s good to have testimony from someone who’s met her.  


  12. For once, I can say I know someone who knows someone on BB. My stepdaughter’s grandmother has worked the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival (hey, it’s a big deal) and through her she knows Walsh and her sons — Walsh is locally famous for opening the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Saugage Stand.

    (They love their local onions. Even more than they love their local wines.)

  13. I agree with this. I am not for gay marriage, but I am also not for marriage at all. Period.

    No one,including the government, is preventing gay couples from having close loving lasting relationships. The discussion is about the legal aspects of married people and how there are benefits and how they are treated differently.

    The government has no business in marriage. That should be the debate. That is the discussion I want to have.

    1. The government has no business in marriage. That should be the debate.

      That’s really special. Is it possible that I could have equal rights while you’re debating?

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