"And you will eat your words"

With Washington in line to become the seventh state to allow same-sex marriage, national media are taking interest in our corner of the country, including New York Times columnist Frank Bruni.

In this week’s column, titled, “Java and Justice,” Bruni wrote about Starbucks being targeted by Christian conservatives for the coffee giant’s support of same-sex marriage.

“In addition to Starbucks, Microsoft and Amazon spoke up for same-sex marriage. All have surely taken note of several polls over the last year suggesting — for the first time — that a slight majority of Americans supports it. All have no doubt taken even greater note of a generational divide. In a Gallup poll, 70 percent of people in the 18-to-34 age range favored same-sex marriage, while only 39 percent of people 55 and older did,” Bruni wrote.

“More so than politicians, corporations play the long game, trying to engender loyalty for decades to come, and they’re famously fixated on consumers in their 20s and 30s,” he wrote.

But politicians are coming around, too, he wrote.

“In Washington, final-hours support came from State Senator Brian Hatfield, a Democrat who considers himself a devout Christian and who said in a statement that he ‘went as far as to ask God for a sign.’ It came, he said, in an e-mail he got from former State Representative Betty Sue Morris, a fellow Democrat, who recounted how much she regretted a vote she cast against same-sex marriage in 1996 — and why,” Bruni wrote.

Yes, that would be our Betty Sue Morris, who represented the 18th Legislative District from 1988 until 1996, when she was elected Clark County commissioner. She served as a commissioner until 2008, when she decided not to seek re-election.

In 1996, Morris voted in favor of a ban on gay marriage. She told The Columbian that year that she voted in favor of the ban because it “was a vote in keeping with my district. It is conservative (and) … has elected increasingly more conservative representation over the time I’ve been in the Legislature.”

Here’s the rest of Bruni’s column:

She shared her story with me on the phone on Monday. “In December of 1998,” began Morris, 70, who then started crying. “Excuse me. I just remember it so vividly. My beautiful daughter, Annie, was home for Christmas, and she told us that she was gay.”

In the days that followed, Morris said, she remembered her vote and “felt like I had denied her something. A wholeness. A freedom.”

“Here’s this precious child that you love and you care for,” she added. “You don’t want to be a part of making them grieve for anything.”

As it happens, she said, Annie didn’t even remember the vote. Now 47, she lives in California and married her longtime partner in 2008, just before Proposition 8 overturned the state’s short-lived same-sex marriage law. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to rule imminently on the proposition’s constitutionality.

Morris told me: “Whenever someone opposes this, I always counsel: you never know. You never know when it will be your child or your grandchild. And you will eat your words.”

Scroll to top