Midday Scan: New storm damage to 'Kalakala'; Archbishop tries to raise storm against gay marriage

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to step in, which could signal the end for the old ferry. Two religious opponents are trying to stop the move toward marriage equality. Attempt to repeal sedition law brings back a sorry bit of UW, state history.

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Despite good intentions, the Kalakala rots in Tacoma (March 2011).

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to step in, which could signal the end for the old ferry. Two religious opponents are trying to stop the move toward marriage equality. Attempt to repeal sedition law brings back a sorry bit of UW, state history.

Is the ferry Kalakala a metaphor? A listing relic, like a listing state government or a sclerotic economy, headed for the scrap heap? If so, abandon all hope, ye who love the Northwest (and maritime history, in particular.)

"New storm damage to the Kalakala has caused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue a call for a contractor to be on call to stabilize the vessel and move it to a new location if needed, Deborah Bach of Three Sheets Northwest writes. "And if the Corps has to step in, it will likely be the end of the iconic ferry."  

The Kalakala saga tracks the narrative arc of a boom-and-bust American West. Recast the old and clear some loot. Perhaps, like the promotional brochures that lured Easterners to the West, the promise was a little too good to be true. Bach writes, "In late December, a notice on the Kalakala’s website announced that the boat had been sold for a dollar, but as of Sunday, the notice was no longer on the site."

Marriage equality comes for the Archbishop, and the Archbishop, we know, is compelled to respond. "Seattle’s Catholic Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, in an announcement published this weekend in all parish bulletins, appeared to the faithful to 'call, email or write' legislators and urge opposition to same-sex marriage," the Seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly writes. "The archbishop’s appeal comes on the eve of hearings on marriage equality legislation, and with the bill one supporter short of the 25 votes needed to pass the Washington State Senate.  House approval is considered likely."   

If only there was a system to quantify Sartain's effort to mobilize the faithful. Because Northwest Catholics, like Northwesterners more broadly, are militantly independent, the call to action could kindle resentment and pushback. In fact, the debate's historic counterpoint might be Archbishop Raymond Raymond Hunthausen's 1977 letter against gay discrimination.     

Gay-marriage advocates have a formidable opponent, in any case, operating in Snohomish County. "The young voice gaining prominence among Washington's social conservative forces is the son of a pastor who had dreams of playing college football and chasing serial killers for the FBI," the Herald's Jerry Cornfield writes. "Thirty-three-year-old Joseph Backholm's emergence comes as social and religious conservatives statewide mount an all-hands-on-deck effort to prevent gay and lesbian couples from winning the right to marry in Washington."  

Backholm is the director of a local Focus on the Family offshoot, the Family Policy Institute of Washington. His political draw may be his sanctimony-free style. "What's made Backholm's voice stand out in the chorus of gay marriage opponents is its tone. There's less fire and brimstone and more stoic argumentation, a product of his training as a lawyer and toils as a policy wonk," Cornfield writes. 

A rich chapter in Northwest history gets revisited as a freshman lawmaker angles to have a Cold War-era sedition law erased from the books. As the News Tribune's Peter Callaghan writes, the Red Scare law flowed from the demagogic Albert Canwell and his 1940s Committee on Un-American Activities in Washington State. "It was hearings on suspected communists at the University of Washington in 1947 — the so-called Canwell Committee hearings — that made him a national figure. Three professors were eventually fired. Another, Melvin Rader, fought back. A Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation by then-Seattle Times reporter Ed Guthman discovered that evidence supporting the professor’s alibi was known by the committee but kept secret," Callaghan writes.  

It's an ignoble legacy all Northwesterners should remember. In 1999 HistoryLink's Greg Lange wrote regarding the fired UW profs, "The three dismissed faculty members never taught again. Ralph Gundlach worked as a clinical psychologist until he retired and moved to London. Herbert Phillips, 56 years old at the time of the hearings, found jobs as a laborer. Joe Butterworth, unable to find a job, went on welfare and died destitute in 1970."   

Lastly, how young is (post-European settlement) Alaska? In Anchorage, one pioneer just died. The Anchorage Daily News' Flip Todd writes, "Frank Metcalf Reed, 99, who arrived as a babe-in-arms on the banks of Ship Creek in 1915, died Sunday, Jan. 22, at Providence Hospital after a sudden bout of pneumonia. He had probably lived in Anchorage longer than anyone, even serving his World War II enlistment as a naval liaison officer helping young seamen transiting the town on what is today Elmendorf Air Force Base." When the family arrived, most people in the emerging settlement lived in tents; the family later moved to a one-room log cabin.   

Link Summary

Three Sheets Northwest, "Storm damaged Kalakala close to sinking"

Seattlepi.com, "Archbishop Sartain: 'Protect Marriage'"

The Herald"A new voice in marriage debate"

The News Tribune, "Lawmakers right to remove unjust law"

Anchorage Daily News, "Frank Reed, who came to Anchorage in 1915, dies at 99


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson