Stevens all right for her causes

  • By Jerry Cornfield / Herald Columnist
  • Saturday, July 3, 2004 9:00pm
  • Local News

State Sen. Val Stevens is a “right wing radical fanatic.”

She said it. I swear on the Declaration of Independence.

On a farm in Marysville, at a fundraiser for a fellow Republican, Stevens recounted winning her first election to the House of Representatives in 1992 in the old 39th District.

Her seatmate was “liberal socialist” Hans Dunshee of Snohomish. He’s actually a Democrat.

“I’m not calling anyone names,” she said. “He wears that liberal socialist label very well. I’m proud of my right-wing radical fanatic position as well.”

I joined in a group grin at her self-deprecating revelation and self-evident truth.

This is not news for even the most casual observer of the political scenery. Stevens is a true believer who’s made piety a policy.

Most lawmakers promote the profound importance of the “Three Es” – economy, education and environment; Stevens pursues the prodigious power of the “Three Gs” – guns, gays and God.

Democrats deride her demagoguery. Republicans, well, they like her votes. Otherwise, they’re so silent you can hear their eyes roll.

Stevens delivered gun owners a long-sought victory this year. For the first time, Washington is recognizing concealed weapons licenses issued by those states with regulatory guidelines that mirror ours.

Her biggest fight brewing is against those wanting to legalize gay marriage. In 1998, state lawmakers passed the Defense of Marriage Act and overrode a Gov. Gary Locke veto to make it law.

It’s under attack in King and Thurston counties, and same-sex couples married in Oregon are suing to overturn state law and win legal recognition of their unions. Stevens is riding shotgun in a minivan of interveners to both suits.

On June 14, she solicited state representatives to hop in the van, warning that Attorney General Christine Gregoire might not put forth a “full and forceful defense” when the cases are heard this fall.

Gregoire, who is running for governor, had told legislators she won’t make the moral and religious arguments cast about when lawmakers passed the Defense of Marriage Act. Gregoire said she would not be offended if they entered the fray. Stevens took her up on the offer.

“We want to make certain it is protected,” she told me. “Marriage should not be between two brothers, it should not be between cousins, it should not be between a brother and a sister. There are reasons that we do not allow a brother and sister to procreate. How are we going to prevent that from happening?”

Stevens’ soldiering extends beyond the courtroom. She is helping mobilize voices and bodies statewide against gay marriage and engage them in the national campaign to amend the U.S. Constitution to prohibit same-sex unions.

I’m sure the insurgents who signed the declaration 226 years ago today never envisioned such discourse on marriage. But in crafting rules for our republic they plowed the field for raucous debate and paved the way for proud right-wing radical fanatics such as Stevens.

Birthday cake anyone?

Reporter Jerry Cornfield’s column on politics runs every Sunday. He can be heard at 7 a.m. Monday on the Morning Show on KSER 90.7 FM. He can be reached at 360-352-8623 or

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