A Republican Senate candidate in Oregon will unveil a television commercial Tuesday that highlights her support for gay marriage — a reflection of the rapidly shifting politics of the issue. Monica Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon, has been attacked by Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley as just another cookie-cutter conservative. The first-time candidate supports abortion rights and gay marriage, and she’s looking for ways to show voters in the blue state that she’s different. “My opponent keeps trying to paint me as an extreme right-wing Republican, and that’s actually not who I am,” she said in a phone interview. “I’m a very independent-minded person, like our state. I’ve always felt government should stay out of it. This isn’t a change in thought for me at all.” The man who stars in the ad, Ben West, was a plaintiff in the lawsuit that successfully struck down the Oregon Constitution’s ban against same-sex marriage early this year. He and his husband, Paul Rummell, were intrigued by Wehby’s support for marriage equality ahead of the May Republican primary, in which her opponent was a socially conservative state representative.
In his first term Sen. Merkley has been an ardent ally of LGBT causes. He cosponsored the repeal of DADT and the failed attempt to repeal DOMA. While a member of the Oregon House, he spearheaded the successful campaign to pass the Oregon Equality Act, a feat that lead to his selection to introduce the current incarnation of ENDA in the US Senate. While Wehby’s support for marriage equality is certainly welcome, the Democratic Party’s tenuous hold on the Senate should not be risked for an ally to some progressive causes.
(Tipped by JMG reader Rich)