Alison Lundergan Grimes talks with farmers about government regulation, gay marriage

syoungman@herald-leader.comNovember 22, 2013 

Alison Lundergan Grimes

PHOTO PROVIDED

MAYFIELD — Likely Democratic Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes took her campaign to a farmer's roundtable Friday afternoon, hearing concerns about regulations that deal with migrant workers and same-sex marriage.

Grimes, sitting with about a dozen farmers at Guthrie Farms, was asked whether she believes in "Adam and Eve" or "Adam and Steve." She responded that every couple should have the same opportunity as she and her husband, but noted that Kentucky has passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

As Grimes sat at the roundtable, she repeatedly criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and sought to steer the conversation to the farm bill that has stalled in Congress.

When Grimes asked the group how they felt about immigration reform, a day after she endorsed a legalized path to citizenship, she heard almost to a person that American interests should come first.

"I think we need to be taking care of our own," Cliff Guthrie said.

Grimes immediately followed by saying Congress should be "taking care of our own" by approving a farm bill that does not cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps.

"I think we've got to balance our budget, but we do it the right way," she said. "We don't do it on the backs of Kentuckians who need and deserve to have that help and assistance from the government."

The question about same-sex marriage came toward the end of the hour-long discussion.

"You believe in Adam and Eve, don't you?" Mitchell Guthrie asked.

"Is this another lesson I'm learning here?" Grimes responded.

"No, you believe in Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, don't you?" Guthrie clarified as Grimes and the small crowd laughed. "Gay marriage. You don't support that, do you?"

"Well, I want to be honest with you guys, and gal ... my husband and I have been married seven years, and the Supreme Court has already determined in my view and decided this issue, and I'm not going to ... I think that if I've been committed then others should be able to have that same commitment," Grimes said. "But the Supreme Court they've already ruled on this, it's a state sovereign issue, and here in the state of Kentucky we already have a constitutional amendment. ... Now that's not to say they won't readdress it."

When asked afterward by the Herald-Leader to clarify whether she supports same-sex marriage, Grimes said "the topic of our roundtable today was agriculture and how we move, especially a big part of our economy, in the right direction."

"Right now it's stalled," Grimes said. "And you heard me express my viewpoint, which is my husband and I have been married for seven years, and I want to make sure all individuals have that same opportunity."

She continued: "In terms of same-sex marriage, I have said, as I said here today, that I'm supportive just as my husband and I have the opportunity to have a commitment together for seven years, other individuals doing that same thing, but the Supreme Court has decided this issue and has left it to state sovereignty."

When asked why she didn't mention her support for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants during the roundtable, Grimes said her position remains that there are "11 million individuals who deserve an earned pathway to citizenship while we are securing our borders."

"It would be a boost to Kentucky and our economy," Grimes said.

Grimes repeatedly faulted McConnell for Kentucky's economic ills. When she asked what the greatest problem was, most farmers responded overregulation.

"I think there's just too much regulation that we're having to fight," Cliff Guthrie said. "We're being regulated out."

Grimes nodded as two of the farmers described regulations that require clean drinking water and cots for migrant workers that must be at least 2 inches off the ground.

"Sounds like overregulation," Grimes said.

Grimes was asked after the roundtable about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoking the so-called "nuclear option" Thursday that allows most presidential appointments to pass the Senate with 51 votes, instead of a 60-vote supermajority.

Grimes said as she talks to Kentuckians, "they don't view it as a procedural problem as we talk about how to get Kentuckians back to work."

"They view it as a Mitch McConnell problem," Grimes said. "And the answer to that we will be able to solve a year from now with this election and our first female United States senator."

When asked by a reporter if she would support the same move if Republicans controlled the Senate, Grimes said "there is blame on both sides of the aisle."

"In terms of the vote that happened yesterday, I think there is blame on both sides of the aisle," Grimes said. "It is worth us taking action to make sure that we move Senate procedure along."

Sam Youngman: (502) 875-3793. Twitter: @samyoungman. Blog: bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com

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