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Heated words at debate

Heated words at debate

Congress hopefuls talk partial births, gay unions

Oct. 05, 2004
Herald Staff Writer

Partial-birth abortions and gay marriages were the hot-button items in a debate Monday night among the five candidates running for the 17th Congressional District seat.

Moderator John Bridges, a land-use attorney, asked members of the Calvary Chapel audience to withhold applause during the debate, but statements by Republican challenger Mark Risley and incumbent Sam Farr, D-Carmel, on partial-birth abortions, caused some to ignore the instruction.

Risley said he was "strongly against it," citing the judge's language in his ruling overturning legislation prohibiting partial-birth abortion.

Farr, who participated in the debate by telephone from Washington, D.C., said Congress "tried to write into law what didn't exist in medicine," terming it a rare procedure that ought to be left up to a patient and her physician.

Libertarian Joel Smolen said he would consider it if necessary to save the mother's life, while Green Party candidate Ray Glock-Grueneich and Peace and Freedom Party candidate Joe Williams said they supported a woman's right to choose whether to bear a child.

On same-sex marriage, Smolen said the Libertarian Party "is the party of choice." Farr and Glock-Grueneich said the concepts of a couple's status under civil law and the marriage sacrament as defined by churches should be kept separate. Williams remarked that if a gay couple wants the burdens of the marriage tax penalty, raising children, inheritance laws and partners making medical decisions, "they can have it."

"I would not raise a voice against two people who make a choice to be together," Risley said, but added, "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman."

Farr came under attack from Williams and Risley for his support of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Trade Organization and globalization measures when the question of job outsourcing overseas came up.

NAFTA has been "a disaster," Williams said, and is "driving illegal immigration from Mexico." He called for an end to tax havens for corporations that relocate plants outside the United States.

Political decisions have encouraged American businesses to send their jobs to places that don't have the same workers' rights, pollution standards or salary levels, Risley said. "NAFTA and the WTO make us willing participants in this human rights violation."

Smolen said Libertarians "are for free trade and a level playing field; if it takes tax enhancements, so be it." Glock-Grueneich said the United States ought to vary its tariffs on imports based on working conditions and environmental impacts, and "tax the profits of oppression." And, he said, Americans should boycott Chinese-made imports entirely. "China is a huge slave labor camp."

On the subject of illegal immigration, Risley cited a recent Time magazine article that describes the U.S. border as "dangerously porous" and that economic issues aside, it is a major security issue. "I fear the next 9/11 will be bigger."

Farr said the Bush administration has failed to help the states pay for the costs of porous borders in policing, medical care and social services, and sealing the border is a federal responsibility complicated by the fact that the border "is probably the most busy in the world" in traffic of goods and services.

Smolen questioned why the federal government, in its border policy, "is pandering to special interests" and needs to be held accountable for securing it.

Glock-Grueneich said it is a natural, human reaction to migrate from brutality and abject poverty to the rule of law and wealth, and the way to control immigration is to "work for democracy abroad and address poverty abroad." Williams said the increasingly militarized borders of California and Texas are forcing undocumented immigrants to try and cross the border in deserts, contributing to more deaths from heat and thirst.

On the war in Iraq, Farr, Williams and Glock-Grueneich called for troop withdrawals as soon as possible, with Glock-Grueneich contending that private American contractors should also be removed. Smolen and Risley said America is committed to staying the course, finishing the war and stabilizing Iraq.
Kevin Howe can be reached at 646-4416 or

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