Gregoire, Rossi far apart on social issues
Few things demonstrate the political gulf between Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi more than their stances on social issues — from abortion to gay rights, stem-cell research to emergency contraceptives.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Few things demonstrate the political gulf between Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi more than their stances on social issues.
Gregoire supports giving gay and lesbian partners the same rights that married couples have today, as long as it isn't called marriage. Rossi opposes such a move and would consider rolling back a new provision in state law that allows a domestic partner to inherit assets without a will.
Gregoire says pharmacies should be required to sell Plan B emergency contraception, the so-called "morning-after" pill. Rossi said pharmacists should have the right to refuse to fill those prescriptions.
Both gubernatorial candidates oppose assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, and both support the death penalty in rare cases. But they differ sharply over abortion.
Here are summaries of the candidates' views on various social issues, based on recent interviews.
Rossi says he's not running on the issue and doubts whether if a bill restricting abortion would ever come before him if he's elected. But he indicated that he would sign such a bill.
He said, though, that he would support exceptions for incest, rape and to save the life of the mother.
"My wife and I are both Catholic and believe every soul has a value," he said. "If it came before me, I'd vote my conscience, of course. If any of those issues do, I'd vote my conscience."
He said people have told him "you ought to change your position on life; you'd be a shoo-in for governor."
But Rossi said he won't change. "If I'm going to make an error, I'm always going to err on the side of life. What's the worse-case scenario? Someone is alive. So when it comes to those issues, I will always err on the side of life."
He added that "the people still have the power of referendum if they disagreed with my position on life."
Gregoire supports legal abortion, although she says it's not something she'd ever choose to do personally.
"I believe it's not government's role and it's no business of government to tell women what they do with regard to health-care decisions. I think it's a decision to be made by the woman in consultation with her doctor and her spouse or loved one, [and] her relationship with God."
Rossi opposes gay marriage and says he would veto a gay-marriage bill if it passed the Legislature. But he added, "I'm not running on that issue either."
He also said he would be open to rolling back a provision in the state domestic-partnership law that allows a person to inherit his or her partner's assets without a will as long as the couple had registered with the state as domestic partners.
"It seems like a trial lawyer's dream," Rossi said. "By me claiming we had a relationship, you pass away and I can come in and say you promised me this and you promised me that. I think that's a problem."
Gregoire says gay partners should have the rights enjoyed by married couples, but she doesn't want to call it marriage.
"I firmly believe we ought to have in this state — and I believe it's the values of the people — equality on rights and benefits."
Calling it marriage, however, is a different matter.
"The issue of marriage to me is a religious issue. I don't believe the state should be engaged in telling the churches what they can and cannot do," she said.
"To me, the state of Washington did not marry me. To me, it's a sacrament. And so, as far as I'm concerned, my role, my job and my passion is to ensure equal rights and equal benefits. I'll leave the issue of marriage to churches."
Rossi opposes assisted suicide for terminally ill patients and is against Initiative 1000 on the November ballot, which would make it legal.
"My mom had cancer. She had breast cancer," he said. "She started having chemotherapy. She couldn't keep anything down. I'd leave from work and come to lunch and try to get her to eat something. She couldn't keep anything down. If this was available, I think she would have opted to have a doctor help take her life," he said.
Rossi said a relative of his, a nurse, found better medication for her and "my mom started having more of a will to eat and keep food down and started gaining weight again. She lived a couple more years and ended up seeing our first child be born. If she'd had that option [assisted suicide], that never would have happened."
Gregoire also opposes assisted suicide but said she won't campaign against I-1000.
"I have looked at this from every perspective. I have concluded that for me, personally, I will vote no," she said. "But I will not get involved in any campaign at all. I think it's a very personal decision to be decided by the voters. I will respect the outcome of the vote."
Rossi supports adult stem-cell research in an effort to find cures for a variety of diseases. But he opposes using embryonic stem cells, which are collected from embryos that are destroyed in the process.
"Adult-stem-cell research is where all the advances have come from," he said. "I've been supportive of adult-stem-cell research but not embryonic. There is a distinction between the two because one has promise, and one doesn't."
Gregoire says she supports stem-cell research, including that using embryonic stem cells. "I absolutely believe we need to find the cures to these most dreaded diseases," she said.
Rossi supports the death penalty but believes it should be used only for the worst crimes.
"I'm not a fan of the death penalty," he said. "It's one where I used to be more pro-death penalty probably 20 years ago. Really, I think it needs to be reserved for the most vicious of the vicious."
He noted that the governor has the power to commute a death sentence. "Balancing budgets and building streets, that's easy. This would have to be the hardest thing I'd have to do as governor."
Gregoire has never been asked to commute a death sentence, but her position on the penalty is similar to Rossi's.
"I do not support a ban on the death penalty. We need all penalty options on the table for the most heinous crimes," she said. "I do think the death penalty should be used in very few instances."
Teaching abstinence, creationism
Gregoire says she opposes teaching abstinence-only sex education in the classroom. She also opposes teaching creationism in schools, saying "I want science-based education in our schools."
Rossi supports allowing school districts to decide if they want to offer abstinence-only sex education. He also says local school districts should decide "whether or not to teach creationism along with evolution."
Gregoire says pharmacies should be required to sell Plan B emergency contraception, a high-dose birth-control pill that can be taken after intercourse to prevent pregnancy.
Opponents of Plan B say it could cause an abortion by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Supporters say the medicine prevents fertilization in the first place.
"Women ought to have access to lawfully prescribed medication to include Plan B. ... If there's an individual at a store who doesn't want to fill the prescription, as long as there is someone else at the store who is willing to fill the prescription, fine," Gregoire said.
"The issue ... isn't just Plan B. Where does it stop? If you can go in [for] a lawfully prescribed medication and I've decided I'm not going to give it to you because you're a smoker and that's why you have lung cancer and I don't agree with you?"
Rossi says he doesn't agree the state "should be telling the pharmacists they have to carry this product," adding, "I don't think we ought to be forcing Safeway to carry my favorite brand of sport drink, either. If all their customers want it, and they don't do it, then they'll go out of business."
Andrew Garber: 360-236-8268
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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