Trudi Inslee touts husband’s gay marriage view

Democratic candidate for governor an early, solid supporter of legalizing same-sex unions, she says

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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Trudi Inslee, wife of gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee, met Tuesday, March 27, with local marriage equality supporters and reiterated her husband’s support for same-sex marriage during a meet and greet at downtown Vancouver’s Niche Wine and Art Bar.

“Jay Inslee is the candidate that declared support for marriage equality early on,” Trudi Inslee said. “His opponent is against marriage equality. There is a clear choice for people to make, and we need people to be aware of that.”

Jay Inslee, a former Democratic congressman from Bainbridge Island, first alluded to his sentiments on marriage equality as far back as February 2004 when The Seattle Times surveyed Washington state’s congressional delegation about its stance on a proposal to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. “We have never amended the Constitution to deprive people of rights, and we shouldn’t start now,” he wrote in an email to the newspaper.

Just before his campaign kickoff June 27 at Vancouver’s Christensen Shipyards, Inslee was specific about his position.

“I’ve been married for 38 years, and I fundamentally believe that no government and no politician should deny any of my fellow Washingtonians the right to have what I have,” he told The Seattle Times.

His opponent, Attorney General Rob McKenna, is opposed to same-sex marriage.

The Legislature approved same-sex marriage earlier this year. Gov. Chris Gregoire signed it into law Feb. 13. It takes effect June 7 unless opponents of the law collect enough valid signatures by June 6 to qualify the issue for the November ballot, which would put the law on hold. If they’re successful, the measure would be called Referendum 74.

In his capacity as attorney general, McKenna, a Republican, was challenged for his wording of the ballot title for the referendum on same-sex marriage. Thurston County Superior Court on March 13 ordered the ballot title to be revised from McKenna’s “redefine marriage” to “allow same-sex couples to marry.”

About 10 marriage equality supporters turned out to Tuesday’s meet and greet, including state Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver.

Vancouver resident Lorana Myers said she wants a governor who will protect the rights of her family.

“It would be nice if when I went to see my wife in the hospital that I didn’t have to bring a card,” Myers said, referring to her domestic partnership card.

Clark County advocates said they are raising money in support of the same-sex marriage law and Inslee.

“I’m very worried about the governor’s race,” said Vancouver resident Ed Cote, who is on the executive board of the Washington Democrats. “That’s why I’m digging into my pocket frequently. We have a great candidate, but we have a lot of controversial issues on the ballot. Not everyone is as much of a political animal as I am. This year, everyone needs to be a political animal because so much is at stake.”

Moeller urged Jay Inslee to step up his campaigning.

“The perception is he is starting out behind,” Moeller said.

Trudi Inslee said she has seen her husband prevail in elections in which he was a no-name and underdog, and she has confidence he will do so this time.

Vancouver resident Ty Stober of Equal Rights Washington urged that Jay Inslee agree to a gubernatorial debate in Clark County because it’s a swing county. The Columbian has agreed to sponsor a debate in August at Washington State University Vancouver. Inslee has not yet accepted or declined the invitation. McKenna has accepted.

“I know he would be happy to debate down here,” Trudi Inslee said.

The meet and greet was one of five stops she made in Vancouver on Monday and Tuesday as part of her husband’s campaign for governor. She started at a meeting late Monday at Touchmark at Fairway Village, where 17th Legislative District Democrats endorsed her husband. On Tuesday, she took tours of the North Clark County Food Bank in Battle Ground and YWCA of Clark County’s Safechoice Domestic Violence Program. She also met with leaders from Clark County’s Support for Early Learning & Families and took a tour of the children’s library at the 8-month-old Vancouver Community Library.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Trends; http://facebook.com/ColTrends; paris.achen@columbian.com.