Washblog

Steve O'Ban is hiding his anti-gay, anti-choice bonafides from voters

Steven T. O'Ban is an anti-gay, anti-choice activist running for Washington State House in Legislative District 28 (West Tacoma, Lakewood, University Place).  You wouldn't know it from his website though.  O'Ban apparently doesn't want voters to know about his dark side.  Nowhere on his campaign endorsements page, Facebook page or Twitter page does O'Ban acknowledge the endorsements he has received from the professional anti-gays & anti-choicers.  Nowhere does he mention his extreme-right views on civil equality or choice.

O'Ban's Anti-Gay & Anti-Choice Bonafides

O'Ban has quite a deep anti-gay and anti-choice history.  His law firm helped found Washington Evangelicals for Responsible Government in 1993.  WERG lobbied for the passage of Washington's DOMA in 1998.  O'Ban represented a hodgepodge of anti-gay, anti-choice people and organizations in the ensuing WA Supreme Court challenge to DOMA, including WERG and the DOMA architects Rep. Gigi Talcott and Sen. Val Stevens.  You will recall how onerous the resulting ruling was.  O'Ban said at the time:

This case is really about state recognition of same-sex relationships being the equivalent of heterosexual relationships.  My own personal views certainly line up with my clients.'

Last year O'Ban became a public face of the unsuccessful campaign to repeal Washington's domestic partnership law via Referendum 71.  Besides speaking at events like the Ballot Issues Forum held by the League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County and the Olympian newspaper's editorial review board inquiry, he also made multiple appearances on his brother-in-law's radio show to push an anti-gay vote.

O'Ban is heavily involved in the Presbyterian Church in America, an anti-gay, anti-choice offshoot from the mainline Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  Besides his membership on PCA's "Standing Judicial Commission" and history as a past Moderator of the Pacific Northwest Presbytery, O'Ban is on the Board of Directors of PCA-affiliated Covenant High School and on the board of Sacred Road Ministries through which PCA prosthelytizes children and youth living on the Yakima Reservation.  More on PCA below.

O'Ban opposed the 2008 Death with Dignity initiative which passed with nearly 53% of the vote in LD-28 and nearly 58% statewide.  O'Ban is currently the attorney for some rule-breaking pharmacies that refuse to dispense emergency contraception.

The Embarrassing Endorsers

O'Ban has been endorsed by two of Washington's most notorious anti-gay, anti-choice bullies: Larry Stickney & Joe Fuiten.  In 2009 Stickney managed the failed Referenedum 71 campaign to repeal Washington's domestic partnership law.  Prior to that he managed a failed anti-choice initiative campaign and John Koster's failed 2000 bid for Congress (WA-2).  Stickney is again campaign manager for Koster's 2010 bid for the same seat.  Koster is, of course, anti-gay and anti-choice.

Joe Fuiten is on the Board of Directors of Family Policy Institute of Washington, which advocates against LGBT equality and against a woman's right to choose.  As president of WERG in the 1990s Fuiten was "integral" to the passage of DOMA.  In 2006 when he was president of WERG's new incarnation, Faith and Freedom Network, Fuiten worked with Gary Randall & Tim Eyman to sponsor the failed attempt to get a referendum on Washington's anti-discrimination law on the ballot.

Was there something inconvenient for O'Ban in the Fuiten and Stickney endorsements?  If O'Ban doesn't want voters to know about his anti-gay, anti-choice history and connection to the likes of Stickney and Fuiten, Joe Fuiten's June 10th endorsement must certainly have made him wince.

It is not often that we have a chance to support for public office an ally who has fought beside us on so many pro-family battles over the years.

THAT IS WHY I AM PLEASED TO ENDORSE

Dear Friends,

Steve O'Ban has been on the front lines for family values and religious freedom as a Constitutional Law attorney for more than two decades. Now, we have the opportunity to help send Steve to Olympia as a State Representative.

Here are a few of the highlights of Steve Steve O'Ban's work successfully defending our values as one of the state's leading Constitutional Law attorneys:

· Defended Washington's Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as between one man and one woman before the State Supreme Court. Marriage was protected by a razor thin 5-4 decision. [snip]

Steve is currently helping to defend pharmacists from being forced to dispense the morning after pill even though they believe it destroys human life and violates their conscience. The case goes to trial this July. [snip]

Sincerely Yours for the Kingdom,

Pastor Joe

Stickney's June 28th endorsement, titled "Three great candidates: Strobel, O'Ban and Coday" indicates that O'Ban and Stickeny are philosophical soulmates.

The Washington Values Alliance is proud to endorse three more excellent candidates for the Washington State House of Representatives. ... All have shown genuine commitment to the cause of human life, the institution of marriage, and the principles of limited government and free enterprise.
Oof, imagine being lumped together in an endorsement with teabagger Art Coday and bikini-barista-on-the-brain Michele Strobel.

A Sly Wink to the Radical-Right

Only in the official 2010 Primary Online Voters' Guide does O'Ban dare to hint at his anti-gay and anti-choice convictions by divulging that he sits on the board of Covenant High School.  Although the school's name is a tip-off to the religious-right, most voters must dig into the school's website to learn that Covenant HS "is a ministry of Faith Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church in America)".  Presbyterian Church in America is not the mainline Presbyterians, but a radical-right offshoot.  Here's what that church has to say about gays and choice:

Sanctity of Life.  The PCA is committed to the sanctity of life in every phase of its continuum.  Abortion, infanticide and euthanasia are examples of destructive acts that do not affirm the dignity and uniqueness of human life.

Homosexuality.  The PCA is committed to the sanctity of human sexual relationships.  We believe God's intent in creation was that male and female would be complementary, that the privilege of sexual expression would be between male and female only, and this expression would be only in the context of marriage.  Both heterosexual and homosexual sexual behavior outside of marriage violates the human spirit and distorts God's intent for men and women.

It is worth noting that in the Online Voters' Guide, O'Ban scrubbed any identifying description from his involvement in PCA's Sacred Road Ministries, stating only that he is a "Volunteer and board member of organization serving the poorest of the poor on the Yakima Indian Reservation".  If this is something to be proud of, then why the denial of the religious context?

Why O'Ban is being coy: Rep. Troy Kelley

The seat O'Ban is after is held by Rep. Troy Kelley.  He was first elected in 2006 after the retirement of O'Ban's anti-gay former client Gigi Talbott.  In 2008 Kelley handily won reelection against a republican challenger with 60% of the vote.  By then Kelley had voted "yes" on two important pieces of pro-equality legislation: SSB 5336, Washington's first domestic partnership bill; and HB 3104, the first domestic partnership expansion bill.  Clearly the majority of voters in LD-28 didn't have a problem with those votes, or they'd have elected the republican.

Since his re-election in 2008 Kelley has continued to vote consistently in support of LGBT equality: SB 5952, which amended the definition of sexual orientation in Washington's hate crimes law to include gender identity and expression; and SB 5688, the domestic partnership expansion bill of 2009 which made Washington domestic partnerships virtually identical to civil marriage.  Although LD-28 voters narrowly rejected Referendum 71 (by a mere 112 votes), it is fair to assume that Rep. Kelley's vote on SB 5688 will only motivate those who have since been affected by the domestic partnership law, namely same-sex couples and heterosexual senior citizens who are Registered Domestic Partners, and the friends and family of same.

NARAL gives Kelley a "mixed" rating on choice issues.  However, we can safely assume that O'Ban will rate a zero.  As an indication of where the majority sentiment lies on choice and related issues in LD-28, in 1998 Pierce County voters rejected Larry Stickney's anti-choice initiative I-694 by a 54% margin.  In 2008 LD-28 voters passed the Death With Dignity initiative with nearly 53% of the vote.  Washington voters have consistently voted pro-choice.

So why might Steve O'Ban be hiding his anti-gay, anti-choice bonafides from voters?  Because the anti-equality, anti-choice perspective is a non-starter in LD-28, and O'Ban is out of step with the majority of LD-28 voters on these issues.  Further, people motivated to vote based on Rep. Kelley's pro-equality stance are most likely to also be pro-equality.

We can't be lazy and assume anything, however.  Look who's planning to pay door-knockers this fall - none other than that Oregon carpetbagger, Gary Randall:

In Bellevue, Wash., the Faith and Freedom Network plans to hire activists for about $10 an hour next month to promote statewide candidates with Judeo-Christian values for the fall elections, says Gary Randall, the group's president. Recruits will knock on doors and will be dispatched in large groups, hoping to draw media attention, he says.
We have to work hard and be sure a homophobic, anti-choice deceiver like O'Ban doesn't get into office.  We need to work to help Rep. Troy Kelley keep his House seat.

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

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