District representatives of the Republican and Libertarian parties joined Pierce College students Oct. 24 to discuss current statewide political issues.
Republications Hans Zeiger and Bruce Dammeier, both representatives for the 25th District, and John Mills, attorney for the Libertarian Party, talked about their views on same-sex marriage, funding public transportation and legalizing marijuana.
When discussing Referendum 74, the bill that would allow same-sex couples to legally marry, Mills said Libertarians tend to support same-sex marriage and the ability to marry without gender discrimination.
“The only fair thing to do is to allow gays and lesbians to marry,” said Mills, who received applause from audience members for his comments.
Representatives for the Republican Party tend to believe the opposite.
“More Republications oppose same-sex marriage than support it,” Zeiger said.
Dammeier opposed the same-sex marriage bill brought before the state Legislature because he said the state’s voters should be able to decide on the issue.
“I believe it should have gone to the voters,” he said. “I’m glad it’s before you now.”
He said he’s received more email and letters from constituents about the same-sex marriage referendum than other issues.
“It’s deeply personal to everybody on both sides of the issue,’ he said.
Another issue on the ballot is the proposal to increase the sales tax to fund the county’s public transportation.
Proposition One would provide funding for Pierce County Transit, the local bus and paratransit service.
Zeiger made it clear that he supports the proposition, explaining that public transportation is essential to a balanced 21st century transportation system.
“It’s important that people have access to transit, especially for the elderly and disabled communities,” he said.
Dammeier explained that providing public transportation was a core function of government.
“One of the critical roles of government is to make sure people have access to public transportation,” Dammeier said.
Mills, on the other hand, didn’t fully voice his view on this issue, but he did explain that Libertarians believe in less government and minimal taxes.
“You don’t need to vote to tax yourself,” Mills said. “The vote is to ask if you are going to tax your neighbor.”
The last topic discussed at the Rep Your Party event was the legalization of marijuana in the state.
Mills supports Initiative 502, which would license and regulate marijuana production. He said he actively advocated for marijuana legalization 35 years ago during the Vietnam War era.
“Libertarians would say, ‘It’s your business and your life,’” said Mills, who mentioned that marijuana consumers shouldn’t be arrested for using this drug.
Zeiger rejects the legalization of marijuana because it shouldn’t be approved at the state level but rather at the federal level.
“I think it’s a federal issue,” said Zeiger, who explained that if the state’s voters approve the initiative, it will conflict with current federal law.
Almost 100 students attended the event moderated by political instructor John Lucas, who explained in his opening remarks that members of the Democratic and Green parties also were invited to the event.
Neither party had representatives attend.
“They flaked out,” Lucas said. “We’re kind of improvising.”
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