Midday Scan: Gay marriage's econo-benefits; a resurgence of NW crazies; and an abortion-free North Pole

Could gay marriage solve Washington's budget problems, where are all these extremists hiding, and why is the North Pole so concerned about abortion (actually)?

Crosscut archive image.

Freya Wormus, left, and Alex Martin sewed their wedding gowns 10 years ago when they made their commitment together.

Could gay marriage solve Washington's budget problems, where are all these extremists hiding, and why is the North Pole so concerned about abortion (actually)?

The sub rosa alliance of human rights activists and rapacious wedding planners gained full expression Wednesday as the Washington state House passed the same-sex marriage bill, 55 to 43. When Gov. Chris Gregoire signs the bill as she has promised, the celebration will extend from equality proponents, to Ben Bridge Jewelers, to the good folks who work the Macy's wedding registry.     

"The bill's passage likely means lots of new business for Washington's wedding and tourism industries," the Oregonian's Justin Runquist writes. "The Williams Institute, a UCLA think tank that specializes in sexual-orientation and gender-identity law, estimates that more than 9,000 same-sex couples who already live in Washington will marry in the first three years following the bill's enactment. This could inject $88 million into the economy, the institute says."   

Curiously, marriage-equality's economic windfall was never a major talking point. One takeaway is that there is nothing wrong with the alchemy of principle and profit.

Juxtapose Washington's farsightedness on same-sex marriage with the Northwest's legacy of attracting right-wing loons. It doesn't quite square, although white supremacists could represent the dark side of Northwest Utopianism, evil idealists looking for virgin turf to reimagine a Nazi-like society. Are these militant reactionaries really resurgent?     

"A decade after the dissolution of the Aryan Nations compound in northern Idaho and the arrest of the Montana Freemen, white supremacists, far-right militias and radical patriots have revived their dream of a homeland in the Northwest," the Los Angeles Times' Kim Murphy writes. "In 2010, residents in several parts of Idaho woke to find Easter eggs tossed on their lawns — courtesy of the not-dead-yet Aryan Nations. The eggs contained jelly beans and solicitations to 'take back our country and make it great, clean, decent and beautiful once again.'" 

Alaska is more of a libertarian place or even a Norway in reverse (loads of oil revenue, although the money is not used for a cradle-to-grave welfare state). So what gives with the latest legislative effort (copying conservative Southern states) to require pre-abortion ultrasounds?

"Women would be required to undergo an ultrasound before receiving an abortion under legislation proposed in the Alaska Senate on Wednesday," the Anchorage Daily News reports. "Under the bill, the woman, or the parent or guardian whose consent is required for a minor to obtain an abortion, would be informed of the right to view the ultrasound image during the exam and hear an explanation. They can decline to see the image or hear the explanation." 

The paper reports that "the primary sponsor of the bill is Senate Minority Leader John Coghill, R-North Pole." Yes, there really is a North Pole, Alaska. The city's website notes that the North Pole is where the "spirit of Christmas lives year 'round." 

During the Great Recession, greed is not good, especially when it's on display. State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kriedler is pushing lawmakers to give him the authority to weigh the surplus from a nonprofit health insurer before agreeing to a rate increase. It sounds like Horse Sense 101. 

"Most publicly traded companies sitting on a pile of cash face a lot of sharp questions from shareholders, often accompanied by demands to fork it over as dividends," the Seattle Times' Carol Ostrom writes. "Nonprofit health-insurance companies in Washington don't have shareholders. But they are facing demands for the $2.4 billion they've amassed while handing steep rate hikes to customers."

Lastly, could there be anything more artful or quintessentially Northwest than a "mini-opera" about the 1916 Everett Massacre?. Absolutely not. As KPLU reports, "The bloodiest event in Pacific Northwest labor history, the event that left 7 people dead and many more seriously injured, is the subject of a new mini-opera by Wayne Horvitz and Robin Holcomb at Seattle's ACT Theatre." The show's evocative title is Smokestack Arias. 

Link Summary

Oregonian "Washington's gay marriage law could be boon for state's wedding, tourism industries"

Los Angeles Times, "White Supermacists revive dream of a homeland in Northwestern U.S."

Anchorage Daily News, "Bill would require ultrasound before abortion"

Seattle Times, "3 big health insurers stockpile $2.4 billion as rates keep rising"

KPLU, "A mini-opera about the Everett Massacre of 1916"


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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