Gordon Smith: Headfaking on Gay Rights

Gordon Smith, a leading GOP conservative, likes to pretend he's a moderate.

And nowhere is that more on display than his treatment of gay rights. After all, somehow he bamboozled the mother of Matthew Shepard into endorsing him in 2002. But, this year - just like 2004 - he voted to amend the US Constitution to remove civil rights from gay Americans.*

As the Senate Majority Project points out:

One could be forgiven for thinking that Gordon Smith of Oregon supported gay rights. After all, Smith spoke last year to a group of Log Cabin Republicans who “wildly applauded” him, according to press reports. In that speech, he called on the Republican Party to step up to the plate, saying that, “The work on the left is already done.” ... For all his sensitive talk, why did Smith turn his back on the community that “wildly applauded” him to defend his vote for a ban? ...

And the masked man that cast today’s vote for cloture? As it turns out, it’s the same Smith Oregon’s had all along. Gordo has the rare distinction of getting praised by the gay community while voting against their interests time and again.

Head on over to Senate Majority to read the rest. .

[* Some Republicans like to claim that the federal marriage amendment doesn't actually remove the right to gay marriage. But, the only reason to amend the constitution is to change it. By definition, anyone that supports the amendment agrees that the Constitution already includes that right. Otherwise, there's no need for a constitutional amendment.]

Comments

  • Betsy Wilson (unverified)
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    That's why I don't give money to Human Rights Campaign when they come canvassing. They backed Smith in 2002. And their canvassers don't have an answer to me when I tell them that I don't give money to help elect anti-equal rights folks.

  • Ben Dover (unverified)
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    [off-topic comment deleted.]

  • (Show?)

    Ben,

    Huh?

    How is it hypocritical to vote to extend social security to a particular group and also believe the program needs money?

    That seems to me to be the GOP recipe for wrecking social programs: first underfund, then argue that a program can't work as it's intended becase it's underfunded.

  • paulie (unverified)
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    Senator Wyden voted for having the National Guard deployed to guard America's borders. Gordon Smith is stuck with his hypocritical record on gay rights. Come on, look at his personal religion...he's not gonna support gay rights but he'll use their organizations to paint himself a pale Blue to appeal to Oregon moderate voters. The divisive Border battles will smoke out Gordon Smith as to how far right he actually is and has been.

  • (Show?)

    OK, no more conversations about social security or immigration. This is about Gordon Smith and gay rights. Take those conversations elsewhere.

  • BlueNote (unverified)
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    Senator Smith disappointed me today. I am not as negative on him as many of you are, since I still think he is in the middle of the Republican spectrum. But this vote on gay marriage was obviously not going to pass, and Senator Smith could have re-established his moderate credentials with a "Nay" vote without affecting the outcome, but he still chose to cozy up to the rest of the right wingers.

    So, now that I have decided that Smith is on the dark side for good, who will be the Demo with enough money and name to beat him in 2008? And don't tell me it is Kitz. I ran into him recently at the small deli near our beach houses and he does not seem like a man with enough passion to run for County Commissioner, let alone the US Senate. So who is there to run? And don't tell me about incumbents with existing safe House of Representative seats, who would be foolish to give them up.

    Where do I send my early seed money check?

  • (Show?)

    So, now that I have decided that Smith is on the dark side for good, who will be the Demo with enough money and name to beat him in 2008? And don't tell me it is Kitz.

    You can't make me give up hope for Senator John Kitzhaber that easily. Not a chance.

    We're still a long way out. Kitz is a (more than) decent man, with a sense of civic duty. He's also still in the midst of a much-deserved break from public life.

    Kitz could knock Smith outta the park. And, if it develops that he's the only one who could, then I hope his sense of civic duty lets him step up to help reverse the downward spiral of American history.

  • R. Murphy (unverified)
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    It seems to me that DeFazio could knock off Smith too, given his support in the Eugene area, and sure appeal in Portland. Hell, maybe even Blumenauer or Wu could take Smith out. What’s clear is that Smith’s walking a knife’s edge here. And by siding with those who are obsessed with establishing unashamed discrimination into our Constitution, he’s exposing his true colors. He needs to pay at the ballot box for this pathetic pandering.

    One would think, as a Mormon, Smith would be a tad more sensitive to hysterical prejudice.

    I guess not.

  • thethorn (unverified)
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    June 7, 2006

    Senator Smith,

    Not satisfied with making me a second class citizen in my own state with your support of Ballot Measure 36 in 2004, you have now have cast your support for the Federal Marriage Amendment that just failed to pass. I am outraged by your continued support of legislation and ballot measures that deny me the same basic rights that you enjoy simply because I happen to love someone of the same gender in the same way as you love your wife. Who do you think you are? God?

    At one time I felt some sense of compassion from you when you teamed up with Judy Shepard to support hate crimes legislation. I commend you for that but it seems your sense of compassion is limited to standing up for fags only when they are murdered. How big of you! How Christian! It seems you have difficulty connecting the dots, let me do it for you. As long as gay folk in the United States are treated as second class citizens, the homo-hating fringe will continue to see us as fair game. Got it?

    Look, you are entitled to hold whatever religious views you want to hold. That’s the glory of America. However, in these United States, freedom of religion also means freedom from religion and I am sick and tired of your religion and all the others oppressing me in this the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. In Iran, they hang people like me. The only difference between you and them is that you do it in a “nice” way. Thank you very much!

    At one time you seemed like a reasonable man. Someone I could actually talk to and it might make a difference. So much for that fantasy. Now I know there is no longer any reason to hope that you will consider me anything other than a second class citizen. Given that, I will do whatever I can to legally remove you and others like you from office. History is on the side of those who struggle for liberty and justice and I believe future generations of Americans will make America live up to its promise of “liberty and justice for all”. You may be remembered for some notable achievements but bigotry won’t be one of them. In the remaining time that I have on this earth, I will do my best to help return you full-time to running the family business in Pendleton. Until then, adieu.

  • Malcontent (unverified)
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    Betsy: You decided not to back HRC because they're too far right? What planet are you living on? They're Howard Dean's best lapdogs!

  • Harry (unverified)
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    Gordo is to Republicans (and Oregonians) as Clinton (Bill, not Hillary...although come to think of it...) was to Democrats (and the rest of the nation).

    Gordo is walking the line he hopes will put him in the tenure of Hatwood and Packfield...30+ years. Gordo is managing his politics for the long term....and getting Log Cabin Republicans' cheering wildly will only help him in Oregon.

    And whoever suggested that Wu has a snowball's chance in ... must really be using his/her medicinal marijuana card a bit much.

  • (Show?)

    The majority of us learned these lessons in the 60's. A "moderate" does not vote to permanently target a specific class of U.S. citizens for unfair treatment in the United States Constitution. Either the Constitution protects all Americans, or it protects no one at all.

    Smith has never truly been a moderate, but the fig leaf's off now.

  • Katy Daily (unverified)
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    HRC definitely didn’t win back my support with their support of Smith in 2002 (without even interviewing Bradbury, BTW) – but they had previously lost my support by endorsing Alfonse D’Amato over Charles Schumer in 2000. And, as the results of that election showed, that endorsement wasn’t to try to curry favor with a sure-thing R candidate. They took a stand in a real race and decided to back a 52%’er over a 93%’er, all in the name of non-partisanship.

    Think locally – support BRO instead of HRC – in 2002 they tried to educate the public on Smith’s real record on gay rights.

  • (Show?)

    Personally, I think Darlene Hooley would be a strong, strong candidate to take on Gordon Smith.

    [Full disclosure, I worked on her campaign in 1996 - the last time an incumbent Republican member of Congress lost in Oregon. Obviously, I don't speak for her or her campaign.]

  • (Show?)

    ...and we ALL might have to head back out to her district again if she gives up that seat to run for the Senate. It's easy to picture the primary to replace Blumenauer in such a situation, but who are the top benchers in Hooley's district?

  • (Show?)

    This illustrates the patent dishonesty of the modern GOP and the lie behind the "polarization" argument. Gay rights activists rightly decided to give Smith the benefit of the doubt on this--it is a fundamental issue of human rights, and Smith has been fairly--fairly--good on human rights. It was an effort to step across the aisle and do a little bridge-building. And as with everything else, the GOP not only screwed the aisle crossers, but ideologued an issue to do it.

    How often have they taken the good faith of the Dems and smashed it under their jackboots? Let us count the ways: 9/11 responses, Iraq, tax cuts (the first time or two), Medicare, immigration. It never stops.

    Worse, the GOP never cross the aisle in gestures of good faith to work on Democratic legislation. On that, their caucus remains impregnable. It's enough to make you want to go salt-the-earth on them, but hey, someone has to stick around to actually govern, and big-tent Democrats have proven over the past century that we're the only ones who can.

  • James Caird (unverified)
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    The Oregonian editorial board opposed the Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The board also exposed this effort -- on the part of Republicans -- as a cynical election-year attempt to distract voters from the serious problems facing the country. Yet when Gordon Smith puts partisan political gamesmanship ahead of the best interests of his constituents by going along with the whole charade lock, stock and barrell, there's nary a peep on the opinion page.

    Rather than holding Smith's feet to the fire for his role in trying to pull the wool of voters' eyes when he should be representing their best interests with integrity, the Oregonian editorial board gives Smith yet another free ride.

    Smith and The Big O sittin' in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!!

  • Will (unverified)
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    So let's make sure I have this straight (no pun intended):

    1) Gordon Smith is BAD because he supports the will of Oregon Voters (BM 36, 2004).

    and,

    2) Gordon Smith is BAD because he opposed the will of Oregon Voters (BM 16, 1994; BM 51, 1998).

    I love how consistently inconsistent Blue Oregon is.

    Next thing we know Wyden is going to be a saint because he is so bi-partisan in working with Smith, but Gordon will be bad because he is so opportunistic in working with Wyden.

    Let's face it, we have a good team working for us in Washington, DC. Deal with it.

  • R. Murphy (unverified)
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    Harry wrote “And whoever suggested that Wu has a snowball's chance in ... must really be using his/her medicinal marijuana card a bit much.”

    Well, that would be me. My point is that Wu might have a shot against Smith – might – for a couple of reasons. First, he wins in his district with (if memory serves) between 55 – 60% of the vote in a district that resembles Oregon as a whole with its mixture of urban, suburban and rural areas. Second, Smith is a conservatives Republican (and turning more so) in a state that is the, what, 14th most liberal state in the union. Finally, Oregon is trending Democratic primarily because the Republicans have systematically purged any hint of moderation from their ranks. I doubt if Packwood or Hatfield or Tom McCall would win a Republican primary in Oregon today, and the more to the right Smith moves in substance to placate the Republican base (a move of necessity to keep the Constitution Party off his back), the more vulnerable he becomes in our state. There is a tipping point.

    Look, I’m not suggesting that any of Oregon’s current democratic members of congress would beat Smith, and Kitshaber might be the strongest choice since he’s won several statewide election already, but what I am arguing that as long as Smith plays the stooge for the far-right, they all have a chance.

  • BlueNote (unverified)
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    I think the point here is that a Demo incumbent whose district is outside the PDX/BEAV/SALEM/EUGENE metro areas would be very foolish to give up his/her seat to run against Senator Smith because the same nuts that are sponsoring Mary Starrett will be at the polls to vote for any Repubilcan on the ballot. I am just a corporate lawyer, not a political operative like you folks, but I am still waiting for a reasonable candidate to oppose Smith. Maybe Jim Hill?

  • Jesse O (unverified)
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    Smith's using the same argument that Westlund used in his support of M36.

    From Smith:

    But I've also been crystal clear from the beginning that I'm for traditional marriage because I believe that marriage . . . is about more than just consenting adults. It's about the natural creation and nurturing of children

    From Westlund:

    "Study after study and psychiatrist and psychologist alike point to the value and the importance of children having both a mother and a father as role models."

    It's a statement in support of having two (male and female), adult role models for kids, it's not about the marriage.

    They're really arguing against divorce and against gay adoption, not about gay marriage. In Sen. Smith's statement, by implication, he's arguing against het people getting married and not having kids.

    Marriage is one thing. Raising kids is another. Don't let them conflate the two. If they want to prohibit kids from having two same-sex parents, make them say that out loud. If they want to force married people to try to have kids, make them say it.

  • (Show?)

    If marriage is solely about raising children, then we should prohibit infertile people from getting married, people past childbearing age from getting married, etc.

  • Dale Thompson (unverified)
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    How about adding another example of Smith's hypocricy. I saw him on CSPAN's Washington Journal this morning -- and almost puked. The subject was the Estate tax and Smith just continued the regular Repub talking points about wanting to help family farmers and small businesses, points which never hold up under scrutiny, but of course that never stopped him from repeating them. I tried but never got through to ask him how much he would save (make!) if the tax was eliminated. He might invest in more antique golf clubs. But what really torqued me off was when the subject turned to the prescription drug program. Putting aside all his bullshit about how terrible "socialized medicine" is in other developed countries, he used the Oregon Health Program as an example of a successful program. He forgot to mention how he had opposed it when he was in the state Senate, and how the Repubs have used every legislative session since its inception to destroy it. Some say he "looks like" a great senator with his smooth voice and $200 haircuts. I only wish he was as honest as he some people think he looks.

  • (Show?)

    "...and we ALL might have to head back out to her district again if she gives up that seat to run for the Senate. It's easy to picture the primary to replace Blumenauer in such a situation, but who are the top benchers in Hooley's district?"

    I say Greg MacPherson, wildly popular state Rep from Lake Oswego! If he'll do it, we need to get this guy up to the federal level IMO.

  • (Show?)

    sorry, meant to consolidate this into one post:

    Will sez- "So let's make sure I have this straight (no pun intended):

    1) Gordon Smith is BAD because he supports the will of Oregon Voters (BM 36, 2004)."

    I don't recall Oregon voters getting the chance to vote on a federal amendment to the Constitution. Precisely because they feel it's a state by state decision, many who back a state law do not want one for the federal document. As such, Oregonians should be considered essentially silent on the question IMO.

  • BlueNote (unverified)
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    Children, I have told you this before: PICK YOUR FIGHTS!

    If you want to make the next Oregon Senatorial election about gay rights, feel free to do so, but you will be squashed like bugs under the expensive shoes of the zillion members of the Christian Freeway Church of God (or whatever it is called this week). Pastor Bob and his Harley and his "heavy metal Christian band" will lead the flock to beat your asses in the election.

    How about we start talking more about Iraq and the NSA spying scandal and the budget deficit and the things that all those freeway Christians will agree with?

    I support equal rights for all, but let's win the damn election!

  • Bill (unverified)
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    From BlueNote (above): "I support equal rights for all, but let's win the damn election!"

    You're right - it is so dang inconvenient when disenfranchised Americans demand their full Constitutional rights and responsibilities. Second class citizens should just pipe down. And hey, none of this affects me personally, so why are all these people messing up my election plans?

    Sounds like a poll-driven Blue Oregon Democrat to me. And we all know how well those poll-driven Democrats, quick to abandon principle (like, say, equal protection?), win elections...

  • candor (unverified)
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    Uh, BlueNote? Hello? The topic of this thread is "Gordon Smith: Headfaking on Gay Rights". If you feel the need to prop yourself up by talking down to people ("Children, ..."), do it in a thread where your preferred topics are actually on-topic.

  • Ron Buel (unverified)
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    Possible candidates to take on Gordon Smith?

    Give me someone NEW with energy, someone who wants to wage a campaign that includes direct voter contact, not simply buy the election.

    Here are some people I admire in Oregon politics: Greg MacPherson (good idea torridjoe). Jeff Merkley Jefferson Smith Eric Sten Mary Nolan Betsy Johnson Ben Cannon Phil Keisling Mitch Greenlick

    Yes, I think DeFazio and Hooley and Blumenauer and even Wu have more name familiarity. But, they seem unlikely to get in the race from where I sit, more likely to tease us and get in late if they do.
    We have a chance to do some important initiatives in 2008, and a chance to take both houses of the legislature. It would be nice to take Gordon Smith out, too, but he's so slippery and slimy, it's tough to get a bead on him. I would like to see someone put together a real grass-roots Senate campaign, and the people above could do it, feeding everything that progressives care about in this State, including taking the legislature and getting some important health care and education measures passed on the 2008 ballot, at a time when Democratic interest and concern will peak over the Presidency.

    The old fashioned kind of campaign that my friend Bill Bradbury ran, taking his cues from a Washington expert in order to get money that never came from the Senate Democratic committee; not really organizing to do direct voter contact with volunteers; not building on something other than the tired old lefty lobby of teachers, labor and the trial lawyers; taking his cue from polls; even failing to recognize the opportunity that the Iraq War gave him to energize his base -- this is the kind of campaign we would likely get from a late-running Congressional officeholder -- a campaign focused on polls and money. And it's exactly what we don't need. Don't get me wrong -- Blumenauer is often inspiring lately, and DeFazio has all the right instincts, and Hooley and Wu are solid Democrats. But, in some ways, you learn all of the wrong lessons about running for office serving in Washington D.C.
    We are going to lose the Governor's office this election because we have a Governor who is stuck in the past and can't imagine a better future for the State. Someone who runs for Senator as a first time statewide candidate can put themselves in line to take out Saxton in 2010, and that's the truth of the situation.
    In short, I want someone to build a statewide grassroots force that will help everyone else, win or lose. New energy, a new approach, a new face. A commitment to direct voter contact by volunteers, a commitment to continue to build the kind of statewide organization that the Bus Project is building.

  • LT (unverified)
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    We are going to lose the Governor's office this election because we have a Governor who is stuck in the past and can't imagine a better future for the State. Someone who runs for Senator as a first time statewide candidate can put themselves in line to take out Saxton in 2010, and that's the truth of the situation.

    Glad to see someone else thinks Ted is making mistakes, but don't assume we know the November results yet. I just sent the most recent Westlund email to a Republican pen pal and he wrote back "It looks like Ben is really "getting after it," doesn't it?".

    This is a friend who thought long and hard about whether to vote in the primary or to sign the Westlund petition (and voted in the primary because his legislator was fighting a primary opponent).

    I wouldn't inaugurate Saxton as Gov. just yet.

    As far as Ron's comments on what went wrong with the Bradley campaign, I think that is spot on. But it is important to have a candidate who appeals outside the Portland area, and living down the valley I don't see how Merkley, Nolan or Sten appeal to downstate voters.

    I do like this: In short, I want someone to build a statewide grassroots force that will help everyone else, win or lose. New energy, a new approach, a new face. A commitment to direct voter contact by volunteers, a commitment to continue to build the kind of statewide organization that the Bus Project is building.

    As a veteran of the 1992 primary, I want to remind the folks who may not remember that campaign that with a few quality staffers and a lot of grass roots effort, Lonsdale darned near got that nomination (330 vote recount result). Lots of people on that campaign who'd never been involved in a major (or any?) campaign before. Very large diverse crowd at the election night party--from old hands to total newcomers, and not all of them from Portland. Combining that level of energy, inspiration and organization with what the Bus Project is building could well defeat Gordon Smith.

    But the candidate would need Ron Wyden's willingness to stand in front of rooms of ordinary citizens, give a few remarks, and then answer questions for maybe an hour. A grass roots campaign without that is a very uphill battle, because many folks are tired of being bombarded by ads with no opportunity to talk back.

    And never forget the little things. I still remember a non-political friend's story about Gordon Smith in 1996. She'd taken her kids out to a movie and then dinner. The Smith family was also in the restaurant. She said "that poor man never finished his dinner because he'd stop eating whenever someone came over to speak to him, and actually engaged them in conversation".

    There is no ad, grass roots organizing, poll, or consultant wisdom in these cynical days which is more powerful than hearing a story like that from a friend. Old fashioned word of mouth advertising!

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