What's in a Name? Domestic Partnerships: The New Civil Unions?

Kristin Flickinger

Maybe it's just me. I mean, really, maybe it is.

Okay, Follow the bouncing ball:

First we debated about whether GLBT people wanted marriage.
Then we got marriage.
Then we fought really hard to keep marriage.
Then the Oregon Family Council said that they didn’t care if we had Civil Unions, but that we couldn’t have marriage.
Then we lost marriage.
Then we debated about whether we wanted Civil Unions if we couldn’t have marriage.
Then we fought for Civil Unions.
Then the Oregon Family Council said that they didn’t really mean that thing about not caring if we had Civil Unions and offered the totally inadequate Reciprocal Benefits instead.
Then Civil Unions were blocked by the Republican Speaker of the House.
Then we found out that most people think it’s a good thing to give the GLBT community Civil Unions.
Then the Democrats took back the House.
Now we’re fighting for Civil Unions again.
And the Oregon Family Council is threatening to refer Civil Unions to the people.
So, the Democrats are going to change the name to Domestic Partnerships.

Wait – what?

This is where I wonder if it's just me. According to the Statesman Journal, the Democrats are reportedly planning to amend the Civil Unions bill and change the term to Domestic Partnerships in order to make the measure more palatable to voters if that measure winds up on the November 2008 ballot.

Domestic Partnerships are better because the term is more palatable to voters? In a setting where language is so terribly important, I understand wanting to use the term that will garner the most votes, but even if polling shows that Domestic Partnerships are more palatable, I'm having a hard time believing that a name change is the magic bullet that will make my existence as a lesbian more palatable. But, I guess nobody said that it would.

Comments

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    OK, comments on this post are working now. Phew!

  • Bob D (unverified)
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    You are right to be confused. The Democrats have a chance to stand up for what is right--we will see what they will do. But the more they work to accomodate the religous, the farther behind they will get standing up for civil liberties. If the D's make the change in this legislation, I for one will change my party affiliation.

  • Bill (unverified)
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    OK, that's the last straw. My husband and I (married in Canada in 2003, but together almost 20 years) are leaving the Democratic party.

    Oregon Democrats, already debating a watered down version of equality, are now considering kowtowing further to the religious - people with no evidence for their prejudices, just their prejudices - by changing the term by which Oregon's second class offer of "civil union" will be known.

    Enough already. We've had it with Democrats who won't face baseless religious prejudice head on.

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    Marriage by any other name would be as sweet.

    At least that's my opinion.

    I just wish people would stop calling bigots "religous". Hating other people has nothing to do with religion, and has everything to do with pretending you're perfect by pointing out what you see as flaws in everybody else.

    Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure there was a man born some 2000 years ago who said the same thing.

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    Well if the idiots at BRO had gotten their collective heads out of their asses years ago, and began playing OFFENSE instead of defense for decades fighting bigoted ballot measures, and instead put a Constitutional measure on the ballot stating simply: "The State of Oregon shall not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation." we would not be fighting for any of this. It would have been settled (in favor of equality) ages ago.

    Make the bigots actually have to fight on the terms of explicitly saying the State HAS to discriminate. Totally shifts the terms of the debate. Make them spend multi-millions explaining against the direct language why the government must discriminate against people.

    The second the debate becomes them having to say "we have to discriminate because..." you win the debate. But no, better to always play defense and raise millions since it keeps BRO in business, raising funds. When it comes to business models, BRO and the OCA are the same thing, just on opposite sides of the issue.

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    Anyone who has watched our ballot initiative process understands that in the realm of public perception, titles matter.

    Is the Oregon Family Council wrong on civil unions? You bet.

    Are some Democrats cowards on this issue? Yep.

    Are house democrats wrong to change the name of the legislation if it reduces the risk that gains made during this session will be overturned via the initiative process?

    Absolutely not.

    The civil rights that are at stake are more important than the name used to describe them.

    Seriously.

    Can anyone imagine a billionaire refusing to accept Bush's cuts to the inheritance tax because they don't happen to like the name: "death tax"?

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    Well if the idiots at BRO had gotten their collective heads out of their asses years ago, and began playing OFFENSE instead of defense for decades fighting bigoted ballot measures, and instead put a Constitutional measure on the ballot stating simply: "The State of Oregon shall not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation." we would not be fighting for any of this. It would have been settled (in favor of equality) ages ago.

    I don't agree with your characterization, but your point is spot on.

    I remember having a conversation with Roey Thorpe about that a few years ago. She said that she didn't believe that civil rights should be the subject of a popular vote.

    The result was that OFC and their allies kept putting civil rights on the ballot, and BRO spent millions of dollars and tens of thousands of hours fighting battles that were being dictated to them by their opposition.

    BRO isn't the only group making that mistake, basically the entire progressive side has been outmaneuvered in the ballot initiative process for the past 16 years in this state. Hopefully Looper will start turning the tide in the right direction.

  • Bill (unverified)
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    I just wish people would stop calling bigots "religous". Hating other people has nothing to do with religion

    I just wish religious people would stop being bigots.

    Hear any faith-free reasons for denying us basic civil rights? Are House members debating legal exemptions for non-religious organizations? Hatred has everything to do with religious prejudice, and it's time we confronted that head on.

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    Posted by: Sal Peralta | Apr 9, 2007 6:21:43 PM I don't agree with your characterization...

    Fair enough, just an issue I get very pissed over (as you can tell).

    I get more than a little peeved at BRO and other issue-centric groups who don't fight FOR the issues. BRO is certianly not alone in that. Just that because it IS so vital an issue (equal basic rights under the law is not bottle return depost rates, 5 cents vs. 25 cents, after all) it really and seriously pisses me off to see stupid positioning and strategy within the background of BRO employing the same basic m.o. as the OCA in how they stay in businiess.

  • LeoXXIII (unverified)
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    BS to the public perception. At some point, Oregonians must show who and what they are. If they are against Civil Unions, let them vote that way. But I think it is time to stop running away from this. Stand up for god's sake. Stand for something or you will fall for anything. (ooopppsss sorry to quote a country song)

  • Johnpdx79 (unverified)
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    This change is cowardly at worst, patronizing at best. People elect Democrats to be Democrats, not Republican Lite. Call the Oregon Family Council out...I certainly will.

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    Being a purist at times like these can feel righteous, but a word of caution on kicking the best friends we have to the curb.

    Sure, there are better friends in theory, but are there enough of them elected to office -- from K Falls and Pendleton -- to get us what we want? Nope.

    Let's remember that a (granted, misguided and twisted) majority can easily be persuaded to vote to against any/all civil rights legislation. Each one of their votes counts as much as mine and yours. It sucks, but it's reality.

    If the D's are dressing something up so that it will win, maybe we should all go out for a drink, curse all the bastards everywhere, especially the ones that are not as sympathetic as our D friends ... and keep voting for candidates who are on our side MOST of the time, in MOST of the ways we want them to be.

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    Personally, I'd like to see us remove the word marriage from the law completely. Replace it with whatever-- civil union, domestic partnership, etc. I don't care. Just remove the word marriage.

    Then let the religious bigots rationalize themselves.

    I get so sick and tired of sitting in church and hearing heterosexuals go on and on about how gays only think of themselves, that they're "me, me, me," and that they don't care about how it affects others' marriages. To me, I see it the opposite way. I see those standing in the way as those who are selfish and not caring about the marriage of others.

    Not that long ago my husband and I wouldn't have been able to marry (I'm Caucasian and my husband is Asian). Many of the same excuses are used today. We'll be celebrating our 10th anniversary this year. I'd like to see same sex couples have that same right.

  • Randy2 (unverified)
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    "Domestic Partnerships are better because the term is more palatable to voters? In a setting where language is so terribly important, I understand wanting to use the term that will garner the most votes, but even if polling shows that Domestic Partnerships are more palatable, I'm having a hard time believing that a name change is the magic bullet that will make my existence as a lesbian more palatable. But, I guess nobody said that it would."

    ***Here is one of the reasons I think progressives lose so many political arguments at the ballot box.

    ***Republicans have been masters at controlling the "debate" by their use of language. "Death tax" instead of inheritance tax. "Surge" instead of escalation (although that doesn't seem to have been as effective).

    ***The fact is there are many people who live fearful and sheltered lives and react to slogans/phrases rather than substantive deliberation.

    ***I appreciate the fact that the Democratic majority recognizes that and is taking steps to blunt that fact. Whether you call it "Civil Unions", "Domestic Partnerships" or "A Housekeeping Measure" -- isn't the goal passing a substantive change in the law?

    ***Face it. There are no "magic bullets" that will suddenly turn bigots into rational citizens.

    Randy2

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    Sure, there are better friends in theory, but are there enough of them elected to office -- from K Falls and Pendleton -- to get us what we want? Nope.

    That's a door that swings both ways. I've written and spoken in favor of both civil unions and full equality. I even used my house as the drop-site for the "No on 36 campaign in Yamhill County". But when I ran for office in 2006, in what turned out to be a competitive district, I couldn't get anyone from BRO or HRC to return a telephone call -- this, after agreeing to sponsor and advocate for civil unions and anti-discrimination legislation.

    As for the topic at hand ...

    I guess the question you need to ask yourself is whether you are fighting for your civil rights or fighting for a term used to describe those rights?

    I could understand it if we were talking about uaing the term "marriage", which actually has some meaning outside of the definitions section of a statute, but "civil unions" versus "domestic partnerships"?

    Isn't that like debating whether something is called "pop" rather than "soda"?

    Frankly, I'm wondering whether the OFC isn't doing a little astroturfing around here to see if they can help kill this issue with friendly fire, knowing that they don't have the votes to win this fight in the Oregon legislature.

    Having said all of that, any Democrat who does not support civil unions or domestic partnerships when it comes up for a vote deserves a challenger in the 2008 primary.

  • Thomas Ware (unverified)
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    Marriage is a relgious issue, the sate has no business being involved. My wife and I were married recently, pissed us off so much that we were forced to participate in a ceremony overseen by a state sanctioned "minister" that we promptly divorced.

  • Misha (unverified)
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    Why does any progressive care if the Legislature calls it a "civil union" or a "domestic partnership"? Civil unions didn't even exist until Vermont created them for the first time in 2000. And at that time, domestic partnerships already existed in California!

    Isn't the point that gay and lesbian couples get all of the rights, privileges, and legal responsibilities of married couples? As long as that happens, who cares what euphemism the state uses for it?

  • ellie (unverified)
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    Wait, a minute... when did this happen? Where/who/what is the source? I haven't heard anything about this.

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    >Isn't the point that gay and lesbian couples get all of the rights, privileges, and legal responsibilities of married couples? As long as that happens, who cares what euphemism the state uses for it?

    The whole point of this debate is that unless it is called "marriage," it is separate and unequal.

    Federal law in particular extends to married couples hundreds of rights, privileges, and protections for which by definition couples in civil unions are not eligible.

    As much as I loved Bill Clinton, I have never forgiven him for signing the "Defense of Marriage Act." I think it's one of the most despicable and cowardly things a Democratic President has done in my lifetime.

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    I get the anger at being denied a basic human right that most other people take for granted. I also understand how much it sucks to constantly feel jerked around over it.

    I think Sal nailed it though. If it isn't called marriage, I don't personally care what it's called.

    Does anyone know of any polling that indicates that "domestic partnership" is a better bet for getting or maintaining those substantive changes in the law that are the point of the legislation?

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    Ellie, check the post. Kristin has helpfully provided lots of links to sources.

  • Johnpdx79 (unverified)
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    No polling that I am aware of....As a matter of fact, the only polling I remember at all was taken a while back and Civil Unions were supported by a large majority of people. The point that angers me, though, is because of other states people do recognize a difference between civil unions and domestic partnership. Domestic partnerships are glorified boyfriends/girlfriends...

    So which Rep decided to change the name? Anyone know?

  • Susan Abe (unverified)
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    Kari, you're right that Kristin did a super-incredible job of sourcing this post. But Ellie's got a valid point -- this whole discussion hinges on one sentence from the Statesman Journal: "Democrats are reportedly planning to amend the civil unions bill and change the term to domestic partnerships instead."

    And that sentence is really horribly devoid of sourcing. Which Democrats? Reported by whom?

    So far, we have hearsay about a rumor.

  • Jason Evans (unverified)
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    Welcome to pandering to the nutjob religious right. While the repooblicans may be in the minority in our legislature, it seems that old habits die hard.

    I agree with others here, that Basic Rights Oregon has failed to take the offense in this fight. When my husband (Bob Richardson) and I went to San Franscisco to get married during the 2004 Valentine's Day same-sex unions, I published our stories here and on my old, defunct blog What in the Blue Hell? for all to read. We tried several times to contact BRO and received ZERO reply from them. We wanted to push the message foward, we want to be proactive instead of defensive. The only time we have ever heard from BRO is when it is time to collect a check.

    Now look where we are...facing "domestic partnerships" in Oregon instead of marriage equality. Oregon Family Council is a hypocritical non-sensical organization which has proven itself unstable and incompetent at best. We don't need to harp on about them - they are their own worst enemy in this fight.

    Our own governor, while making big press about bowling with local gay leagues during his first campaign, has declared his objection to "marriage" for same-sex couples. Why we think we can attain this status now is beyond me. The legislature has no motivation to ask for "marriage" as long as they know the governor is not in favor of it.

    What are we left with? Crumbs, table scraps, and legal bills which ensure that we have taken our own steps to protect ourselves in spite of the state's disinterest in protecting it's tax-paying citizens.

    Yeah, I'm still pissed... Jason Evans

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    For those looking for some sourcing on "domestic partnership", here's the latest press release from Basic Rights Oregon:

    Senate Bill 2, The Oregon Equality Act, and House Bill 2007, The Oregon Family Fairness Act, Receive Historic Committee Hearing (Salem, Oregon) Today, the House Elections, Ethics and Rules Committee heard public and invited testimony, for over six hours, on The Oregon Equality Act (Senate Bill 2) and The Oregon Family Fairness Act (House Bill 2007). Hundreds of supporters of equality came to the Oregon State Capitol today to testify and show their support for The Oregon Equality Act, a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in Oregon, and The Oregon Family Fairness Act, a bill created to grant same-sex couples and their families a set of rights, responsibilities and protections through Domestic Partnerships. Together, these two bills will ensure basic fairness to all of Oregon's citizens. Nancy Frantz-Geddes from Salem pleaded with the committee, "My family is a loving, devoted and cohesive family that is equally deserving of the same protections, rights and responsibilities afforded to other Oregon families without question. My children are invaluable. My children are Oregon's bright future. Please value and protect my family's future from unnecessary discrimination by fully supporting House Bill 2007 and Senate Bill 2." Dan Bryant, a member of the Governor's Task Force on Equality and a Reverend for 23 years stated, "Contrary to those who claim that these bills are 'anti-Christian,' I find them to be very consistent with the Christian faith I profess and have proclaimed from the pulpit for 23 years." Bryant continued, "Such inclusively is at the center of the Christian gospel." Bryant testified on behalf of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO)--a statewide association of Christian denominations, congregations, ecumenical organizations and interfaith partners. Kristin Carrico, a Sunriver resident, mother of a gay son and a third-generation Republican gave spirited testimony to the committee. "Extending equal rights to every Oregonians is not a partisan issue, but rather a moral and ethical one. Partisan politics have no place in allocating legal protection from discriminatory acts." She concluded, "Passing Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2007 will put Oregon solidly and positively into a brighter social and economic future." "This session is in high contrast to that of 2005," said Basic Rights Oregon Interim Executive Director Aisling Coghlan. "This is the first time in history that a bill granting rights, protections and responsibilities to same-sex couples through Domestic Partnerships has received a public hearing in the Oregon House. We are very optimistic that both of these bills will make it all the way to the Governor's desk for his signature." Tomorrow, April 10th, Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2007 are scheduled for a work session in the Elections, Ethics and Rules Committee at 9:30 AM. Senate Bill 2 previously passed the Oregon Senate on March 21, 2007 by a 21-7 vote.

    I'm not very well educated on the latest ins and outs of these measures, but this looks like they're applying "domestic partnership" to the nondiscrimination stuff - not the marriage or civil unions stuff. But, I could be wrong.

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    Personally, I'd like to see us remove the word marriage from the law completely...Not that long ago my husband and I wouldn't have been able to marry

    You couldn't marry, as a mixed-race couple, but now you can. That's progress. Who would argue, today, that, well, as a mixed race couple you still shouldn't be able to get married but you could have a "domestic partnership?" And you'd have some of the benefits of marriage...but not all?

    Anybody want to argue that "domestic partnerships" for mixed race couples should be the stand of "progressive Democrats?"

    As a married heterosexual I don't feel it's my place to suggest strategy to loving couples being vilely discriminated against, but inequality is inequality, and anything less is, well, I'm sorry, simply less.

    "Marriage" as an institution isn't going away, and it's got nothing to do with religion. My wife and I were married in a civil ceremony that had zero religious overtones. The problem isn't "marriage" as an institution --or as a word-- the problem is discrimination against some couples not being able to marry.

    "Dressing up" the language of discrimination, pretending lesser is more, may well be an effective strategy to "sell" a measure of equality, but I can't accept that institutionalized inequality equals equality.

  • Misha (unverified)
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    Just for the record, the right to marry is now denied to gays and lesbians by the Oregon Constitution. Neither the Democratic Party of Oregon, nor the State Legislature, has any power to change that.

    So what we're talking about here is not "marriage equality"--that door has already been closed (for the time being) by the voters of Oregon. The question is whether the next-best alternative should be called "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships." And, frankly, I don't understand why anyone cares which euphemism the state uses.

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    I'm not very well educated on the latest ins and outs of these measures, but this looks like they're applying "domestic partnership" to the nondiscrimination stuff - not the marriage or civil unions stuff. But, I could be wrong.

    You are clearly wrong. As quoted in your post:

    ...The Oregon Family Fairness Act, a bill created to grant same-sex couples and their families a set of rights, responsibilities and protections through Domestic Partnerships.

    ...The Oregon Equality Act, a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in Oregon...

    "Domestic Partnerships" is clearly about what we've been calling "civil unions" in this context up to now.

  • Phil Jones (unverified)
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    I hope this legislation passes soon. I want to have a civil union with my sister. She's hot!

  • LiberalIncarnate (unverified)
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    "I hope this legislation passes soon. I want to have a civil union with my sister. She's hot!"

    If you are making statements like this, you are a pretty sick bastard, even if you are joking.

    I do not agree with amending this legislation to change the wording. I do not agree with making things more "palitable" to voters when voters in polls showed that they supported Civil Unions by a fairly wide margin in Oregon. I think that the GLBT community has suffered quite enough from these biggots. I am tired of them attempting to get into my bedroom and my personal life, frankly. They are all closet cases, every damn one of them.

  • LiberalIncarnate (unverified)
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    -Dear Rep. Diane Rosenbaum;

    I have heard the news on Blue Oregon, via the Statesman Journal that House Democrats are attempting to amend the bill to allow civil unions to change the wording to "domestic partnership". While I understand the power of words, polls in 2004 showed that while a majority of Oregon voters were not ready for same-sex marriage, a majority were for civil unions. I am hoping that this bill will not be amended to alter the language as such. I believe that the GLBT community has suffered long enough without equal protections under the law. Frankly, even civil unions does not go far enough, but it is progress.

    You and I know, as do the rest of politically aware Oregonians that passage of this bill or the gay rights bill will be challenged in '08. I am sure that they will also be challenged in 2010, 2012 and 2014, frankly. When you dealing with fanatics that make their money from frightened people, there will be an anti-gay measure on every ballot. I have grown accustomed to this fact. With this likely reality known, why not go for the most that we can get? Why not reach as far as we can? How rarely does the legislature meet to address these important issues? Please, if I can be brave in the face of biggotry, you can surely vote to keep this bill as it is. We can face the battle together in the years to come.

  • Johninpdx (unverified)
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    Maybe instead of domestic partnerships, we should change it further so as not to offend anyone at all...

    Perhaps "2nd class partnership", or maybe "Gays offend me but they sure do dress nice - Union"

    Still waiting to find out who'd bright idea it was to change this.....

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    It's Official.

    In a capitulation to polling and politics, the House Elections Committee just approved the -3 amendments made by Rep. Tina Kotek to change the substantive language from 'civil unions' to 'domestic partnerships'.

    The bill was also reported to the full House floor.

    We will never reclaim what was lost in the 2005 Session.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    I agree with Sal's viewpoint on this. It's sad to need to play politics over basic human rights, but that's the reality. Language can be very politically important, and many voters fall prey to fear tactics by the right on this issue. If the voters reject whatever system is established to guarantee partnership rights for all, it will set back the effort for years. Is terminology worth that risk?

    Gay people deserve human and civil rights, but rights are always subject to politcal will. That is reality. Ask Jose Padilla, though he may have trouble answering after all the torture he has endured at the hands of our govenment.

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    Thanks, Doretta. I'm going to dig in further on this.

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    Generally, this demonstrates one problem with the initiative (or in this case, the referral) process.

    Whether voters want something depends not on the content of the measure, but the title. Voters aren't engaged enough to have equal support for "civil unions" even if it's exactly the same as "domestic partnership."

    The same thing happened with Measure 37, where two-thirds of Oregonians want our land use laws to stay the same or get stronger, but they take 10 seconds to decide on a law given the title.

    Sigh. Given that we have such a process, passing the content this session and messing with the title next session is the smart thing to do.

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    Sorry, I meant referendum (not referral).

    In Oregon, three terms: initiative (citizen initiated law) referral (legislature refers law to voters) referendum (voters refer legislative-passed law to voters)

    We seem to be dealing with the third in this case.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Evan is correct that voters often don't look into ballot measure issues closely enough. Still, I believe the initiative and referendum system is needed to counter the ease with which legislative bodies are coopted by wealthy interests.

  • JT (unverified)
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    I watched the Committee meeting online this morning. All they did was change the name from 'civil unions' to 'domestic partnerships'. What's the problem? They didn't change any of the rights that same-sex couples would get.

    You can call it civil unions. You can call it domestic partnerships. You can call it a ham and cheese sandwhich, for all I care. What matters is that it will get couples the rights and protections they deserve.

    And many Oregon businesses already use the term Domestic Partnerships - so why not use the term people are familiar with?

    And as for all those people talking smack about Basic Rights Oregon... where you there last night when hundreds and hundreds of supporters showed up to testify? Where you there on BRO's Lobby Day in March when well over 500 people rallied and lobbied their legislators?

    Where you there at the BRO office during the election in November when staff and volunteers were working 7 days a week to elect a more friendly legislature to make this momentous legislation possible?? Do you think this all happened by magic? No, it happened because BRO is one of the most effective GLBT organizations in the country. I'm honored to be a volunteer and a donor.

  • Are you kidding? (unverified)
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    Are you all kidding me?

    It is nothing more than a name change. HB 2007 will still provide the exact same rights as it was going to before when it was called civil unions.

    Don't we have more pressing things to worry about than to argue about a silly name? How about the real issues here. How about these rights, responsibilities and protections? They have remained and will remain constant. How about our families and our partners that this law is intended to protect.

    It just makes me sick that we are arguing about something as silly as civil unions vs. domestic partnerships.

    You all need to look ahead to the 2008 ballot. The Oregon Family Council has vowed to bring this issue to the voters. What are voters more likely to do when voting on civil unions vs. domestic partnerships?

    Someone on the fence about civil unions would be much more likely to say "Oh domestic partnerships? We have those at work for people. Sure I'll vote for that."

    This BRO blasting is ridiculous too. Give it a rest. Myself, as a gay man, is much more interested in protecting my family. Be it domestic partnerships or civil unions, as long as the rights are the same--who the f&$k cares what it is called?

    Think about what truly matters here.

  • Debs Gleeson (unverified)
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    As an activist and an academic, I wholeheartedly understand the debate on the precision of language. After all, change one word in a sentence and you can completely alter its meaning. With that said, be it civil unions or domestic partnerships, both still enshrine, into state law, the same rights, same priveleges, and same responsibilities. And above all, they are not marriage. Either way, civil unions or domestic partnerships are just one step on the way to full marriage equality; one is not better than the other, and both are mere stepping stones. Instead of debating and fighting about what to call them, we should be working to get them passed. With that said as well, if you have a problem with BRO, the HRC, or any other organization, instead of complaining about it, seek out that organization and volunteer your time and effort. Work from the inside to create the change that you seek. How are we (we as a constituent minority group fighting for recognition) going to create any form of change if we cannot present a unified front. And...as someone who has volunteered with BRO in the past, I know that they are knee-deep, on the front-line trenches of this battle. BRO runs almost nightly phone banks to garner state-wide support for basic equality for ALL Oregonians. Were you there with the other 500 equality supporters on Lobby Day this past March, a Lobby Day that was organized, paid for, and implemented by BRO Staff and Volunteers? Were you part of the BRO-led support at the Hearings for SB2 and HB2007 yesterday? They're there, you just have to look for them.
    Like I said before, instead of engaging in petty bickering amongst ourselves, we need to band together and fight for the rights, responsiblities, and priveleges that we, as human beings, believe that all human beings should be afforded. So stop complaining and stand up and do something for what you believe in! Hopefully I'll see you at the next rally, lobby activity, or phonebank.

  • Ashley (unverified)
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    I've been working with the BRO staff through the youth organizing program - and as a student I've been working to organize other students in support of this legislation. There has been tons of work going into this. I hope you all have been working hard as well to get support for equality for all Oregonians, and not just critiquing from the sidelines.

    I'm simply excited that the legislation is where it is now, and charged about getting it passed! Sure, it's not going to bring us marriage equality, but that's unfortunately against the state Constitution right now.

    We should all be working on SB2 and HB2007- which will bring us closer to what we want, and provide necessary rights and protections, regardless of what it needs to be called.

  • Amy D. (unverified)
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    I second what JT said. Where were all of you when we were knocking on thousands of doors and calling tens of thousands of phone numbers last summer and fall, lining up pro-LGBTQ candidates to make sure this kind of legislation had a chance? Where were you leading up to the election? Where were you on lobby day last month? And where were you last night?

    If you want to see change, make it happen.

  • Jennifer (unverified)
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    I understand the anger around not being able to achieve marriage equality, but remember, that descision was made by oregon voters in 2004, NOT by the democrats, NOT by BRO, NOT by our legislators.

    If you are on the frontlines of fighting for LGBTQ rights and are listening to what voters are saying, it would become clear that the climate on same-sex marriage in this state is still for the marriage ban, but WOULD support domestic partnerships. We are a state full of moderates and it will take time to educate and shift opinion on full marriage equality and an eternity to dismante marriage all together, as some have suggested and in my radical idealism, i understand. But there are SO many immmediate rights domestic partnerships provide for Oregon families NOW. and being a queer person of color i am not willing to turn my back on civil liberties that are within reach and empower our communities that have been so systematically oppressed.

    I am happy and proud to stand with BRO, with the legislators standing up for non-discrimination & domestic partnerships, and thank them for being on the frontlines on this fight. where are you all??

  • (Show?)

    Posted by: Ashley | Apr 10, 2007 11:58:54 AM

    I have been in this fight alongside and supporting BRO when I first moved to Portland in 1997, and I call BRO's craptacular (i.e.. always playing defense) to the mat because I have done more than just critiqued it from the sidelines. This is not some uninformed opinion in my criticisms of the hugely boneheaded basic strategy of BRO. While piddling around with things like side-show PR efforts of the Rural Organizing Project and useless corporate lobbying to companies whose HR is already moving the right direction on the issue (like Nike, Intel, etc.) is about fundraising for BRO salaries, and ineffectual side-show crap and NOT about pushing FOR equal rights for everyone.

  • Johnpdx79 (unverified)
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    Wow, did someone at BRO get wind of this thread and ask all their people to come and post about how wonderful they are?

    Listen, we all know they do good work....But like someone posted above, its always defensive work...but I dont want to get off on that tangent....

    If we are so ambivalent about the name, then why change it at all...? Ultimately, it seems like another dig at the GLBT community, although this time there is no good reason.

  • (Show?)

    Just a few things:

    The false dichotomy of gays vs. religious folks does not serve us. In my experience, the majority of religious people agree with ideas such as equality and love for fellow humans.

    I am a proud Democrat. I am involved with organizations within the party such as the GLBT Caucus of the DPO so that I can help Dems to make good decisions and hold them accountable when they stray.

    In the end, I agree that if it's not marriage, it's not marriage equality. The change of terms from Civil Union to Domestic Partnership won't change the number of rights afforded to me or my family. On the whole, I have rallied behind Civil Unions, because they are a middle-ground that will help to protect families. Changing the name won't change that.

    I'm sure that those who made the decision to change the term looked at polling on the issue. BRO is very good at using polling data and I'm glad of that. What troubles me is the apparent moving target that our lives and livelihoods have become.

    I know there's no magic bullet. That's the point. Polling after Measure 36 showed that the people of Oregon were solidly in favor of Civil Unions. If that has changed so much that we need to change the term, I find it dubious that in the year and 4 months between passage of this bill and the 2008 elections, people's support will not have shifted again. The question is which way it will shift and what we will do to make sure it shifts in our favor - not only by political maneuvering, but by true outreach.

    Perhaps it is time for a true education campaign - instead of a voter education campaign - that would familiarize people as people with their neighbors, vendors, customers and friends.

    The politics are important. The words are important. The people are also important. It's the people who make the politics possible and the words meaningful.

  • brian (unverified)
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    Oh my lord, let's not glorify the good ol' days of 2005. They couldn't even get the non-discrimination off the floor.

    The practical nature of this bill is that it will allow me the right to visit my partner in the hospital as 'family', pick up our child at school as 'family' and pass on my inheritance to my partner as family. These basic rights are extremely important to me and I don't care if they call the bill civil unions, domestic partnership or heather has two mommys.

    We will continue to be treated as second class citizens until we receive federal recognition and rights.

    Obviously, they played politics, and they kept it on the QT. There was method to the madness.

  • Jim Clay (unverified)
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    I had the honor of working with the BRO team 3 years ago, during the period of time that Multnomah County was issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

    BRO staff and volunteers were (as I was) working 19 hour days, knowing full well that not all phone calls nor e-mails were being, nor could they be, answered. It was a system of triage, and anyone who was remotely near it knew that this had to be.

    Disagree with BRO's policy directions, or goals, if you must; honorable people often disagree. But bashing BRO for being anything less than 100% dedicated and highly effective, is just wrong.

  • frank carper (unverified)
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    But bashing BRO for being anything less than 100% dedicated and highly effective, is just wrong.

    no bashing here, just analysis: 100% dedicated? yes. highly effective? no.

  • Sarah X (unverified)
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    I am horrified by what I am reading regarding changes in this bill. I am a 35-year-old, professional, lesbian woman in a committed, loving, life-long relationship. Last year, I was diagnosed with a life-threatening, chronic disease that turned my life upside down. I have been through more ups and downs in the past year than in the course of my entire life. I am fortunate enough to have a partner that has stood by me through this experience. Last month, I was mistakenly administered the wrong kind of insulin by the pharmacy. I passed out immediately after injection and was rushed to the E.R. When I awoke, my parter was in my room, holding my hand and was able to fully inform me of what had happened, because of discussion with the doctor. The reason, the only reason, this was possible was because we were at N.Interstate Kaiser, who recognize domestic partnerships. We have since cancelled plans to visit the Oregon Coast, knowing that if this incident had happened anywhere else, I would have likely been wheeled away and she would have been left in the dark regarding my reatment. I am not usually a fearful person, but I am terrified of what will happen if Oregon does not create laws that will protect us in the event I cannot make medical decisions on my own. For those of you arguing about changing two words in this legislation, I ask you to please imagine how alone you would feel if you and your parter were separated at a time you needed each other most, becuase we could not agree on two words. I believe this debate is a good one, but we have a chance now to have all of the same rights and protections as straight couples, lets take this stride together and discuss refining language later.

  • Johnpdx79 (unverified)
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    I completely understand what you are going through...I work in the medical industry myself, my heart completely goes out to people in your situation.

    The point I tried to make (and continue to try and make) is that this is nothing more than an unnecessary slap in the face to the GLBT community, and I resent that. Of course we all want the rights and responsibilities that this bill will entail, but why change the name other than to pander (unnecessarily) to the people who can't stand the thought of gays existing in the first place...

  • WTF? (unverified)
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    Sarah X:

    Why are you horrified? I think there is a complete lack of understanding when it comes to this NON CHANGE in the legislation.

    Domestic partnerships as written in HB 2007 are the EXACT same thing as when it was called civil unions 2 hours ago. EXACT. No rights have been taken away--none added.

    Read the damn bills you guys. It is like you are commenting blind. Read the damn bill. This is by far the best solution that Oregon can muster up. Why is that? Because of Measure 36. There are about 5 cases directly and indirecctly challenging Measure 36 right now.

    Don't comment unless you have ammo to back up your statements. Again, read the damn bill.

  • Johnpdx79 (unverified)
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    Why not just call marriages domestic partnership? I mean, isnt that what it really is?

    Oh wait, what something is called does matter?

    Go back and read the comments....

  • Sarah X (unverified)
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    WTF-

    I apologize for my lengthy post...

    I COMPLETELY SUPPORT SB2 AND HB2007, WHETHER CALLED CIVIL UNIONS, DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIPS OR...HAM AND CHEESE SANDWICH.

    I just want the rights that are written in the bills and am fully aware that changing two words does not change the essence. Sorry for any confusion.

    The timing of the debate is what I am horrified about. When will we learn that at critical times like this, we need to be united?

  • (Show?)

    So which Rep decided to change the name? Anyone know?

    Tina Kotek, who is, I believe, the only openly gay member of the Oregon legislature.

  • WTF? (unverified)
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    Sarah X:

    More than ever our community does need to be united. You are completely correct. That's why it is sad for me to see people arguing over semantics.

    Be it domestic partnerships or civil unions or yes, even a ham and cheese sandwich--you are a perfect example of what this bill is truly about. The package of rights, responsibilities and protections that come with the ham and cheese sandwich.

    Others may argue about what it is called, but that is the least of our concerns. If Basic Rights Oregon was conceding to cut half to rights to appease the opposition I would stand shoulder to shoulder with you all in demanding more than just the ham in the sandwich.

    Granted, domestic partnerships are not marriage, it is something that can act as a band-aid while our community works towards full equality.

  • Bill (unverified)
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    The false dichotomy of gays vs. religious folks does not serve us. In my experience, the majority of religious people agree with ideas such as equality and love for fellow humans.

    It is NOT a false dichotomy.

    ** What are the non-religious arguments for denying gays and lesbians equal civil rights? Why is no one debating legal exemptions for non-religious organizations?

    Religious prejudice is exactly what brought us selective exclusion from marriage rights in the Oregon constitution. The OFC isn't a group of accountants, or artists. The Archdiocese of Portland was the largest contributor to Yes on 36. Their lobbyist, who attends the liberal St. Andrews, was in Salem last session working hard (and successfully) to KILL civil unions.

    And religious prejudice is baseless - fairy tale rationalizations for denying the flesh and blood humanity of your neighbor, permitting you to consider me and my family less worthy and "moral" and deserving than you.

    Yes, I know that there are some nice religious people, who imagine a god or goddess who loves everybody, and they may have voted no on Measure 36.

    But 36 (and selective denial of civil protections to any citizen) is wrong for better reasons (i.e., despite what you claim your goddess says, my family is just as real and human and deserving of basic civil protections as yours) (much evidence suggests that expanding equality has been a good strategy for this country, too).

    But I definitely hope it sucks to realize that as a nice, liberal member of a religion, your church and its members are working hard, and successfully, to undermine "equality and love for fellow humans." This time, it's gays and lesbians.

    Maybe then these faith-based, evidence-starved, religious "arguments" (i.e., "prejudices") of OFC and other purely religious organizations won't get so many Oregonians (including far too many religious, Blue Oregon Dems) to respond.

  • Liz Smith Currie (unverified)
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    Do you want to win or do you want to whine. If winning means changing the name to Domestic Partner then DO IT!!!!

  • Laura Calvo (unverified)
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    I totally understand and agree that anything less than the use of the word marriage is equal but separate. What we do need to keep our eye on the fact we're talking about real people with real lives that need the protection of HB 2007 now! It's damn well time! It's just that simple. When your kid is in the emergency room, it does not make one shred of difference what word is used to describe your right to be there and to make decisions at the time and without being questioned. The fact that your kid has two dad or moms is irrelevant and it should be a total and unequivocal non-issue. Yes it's a shame that in 2007 we have to even have this ridiculous conversation on something that really should be as fundamental as breathing air. But we are here and it is now! HB 2007 got a "do pass" and it's moves to the floor of the house. Let the Governor sign it into law.

    The other subject brought up is all the criticism of BRO and the Democratic Party. Neither BRO nor the Dems can be all things to all people. Everyone has a right to express his or her opinion and be respected for it. It's unfortunate that some feel so abandoned and wronged.

    In the case of BRO, I'm not on staff or do I receive any compensation from them. To those who feel that BRO hasn't been doing the work and been effective, I call BULLSHIT!

    A lot of very hard and very smart work has been going on in that office by the staff, the board and a ton of dedicated and passionate volunteers. Those spewing forth sour grapes regarding BRO, I can only ask you what have you been doing, where have you been, how much money have you coughed up to support BRO? Better yet, ask the 36 of 38 candidates endorsed by BRO who got elected just how effective the organization is and what effect it has on the current political landscape. Nearly every and certainly a majority of GLBT activists worth a feather boa in this state has either come out of BRO or been strongly influenced by BRO. You can throw me on the fire to burn to a crisp, but the truth is that those of you who are complaining the loudest are probably no further from being part of the solution than your computer key board. If I am wrong, come on down to a phone bank some night. I'll meet you there! If you volunteer an hour, I'll triple in kind by volunteering for three hours. Deal? It's probably a pretty safe bet on my part. Doesn't mater because I'll be there anyway. If BRO doesn't work for you, volunteer down at the donkey stable, I'll give the same deal there too. Bottom line is quit your complaining and DO SOMETHING.

    Like Dubya said, "Bring it on!"

  • (Show?)

    I simply, and respectfully disagree, Bill.

    The arguments that you hear are arguments rooted in fear and based on lies of scarcity and separateness - nothing more.

    The religious leaders that would use their positions of power to leverage that fear, are being used as a wedge to separate those who believe in equality from powerful arguments, some based in scripture, that have worked in the past.

    Note the words of Martin Luther King Jr.:

    "And we are not wrong; we are not wrong in what we are doing. If we are wrong, the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong. If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong. If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer that never came down to Earth. If we are wrong, justice is a lie, love has no meaning. And we are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

    Why would we choose to put ourselves on the other side from a statement like that? Why would we let that be taken from us? By allowing a minority of religious extremists to co-opt all religion, we do just that.

    Count how many pastors spoke in favor of the bills last night. Count how many spoke against.

  • (Show?)

    Frank:

    I wasn't arguing for some people to have a legal "marriage" and some to have something else. I'm arguing for everyone to have access to the same type of legal union.

    I think the word "marriage" should be completely removed from the law-- at all levels.

    All consenting adult couples who can legally enter into a contract together (of course with an exception like we have now for people who are closely related) should be able to have whatever its called -- civil union, domestic partnership, whatever. And that's what everyone gets, regardless of whether its two men, two women, or a man and a woman.

    And that legal union, whatever its called, has the full rights currently attached to "marriage."

    We have to get to the point where heterosexual and same-sex couples can both have access to the same legal union with the same rights. Anything less is unconstitutional and un-American.

    But, I realize it won't happen tomorrow. It'll be something that changes in stages, unfortunately. I'd love to snap my fingers and see same-sex couples enjoy the same rights that my husband and I have today. Throughout my life I've had many friends who are gay or bisexual. Many of them are in committed relationships. Why should those couples have less rights than my husband and I, just because they're two men or two women?

  • Johnpdx79 (unverified)
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    I'm still waiting for someone to tell me why these have to be called "Domestic Partnerships" instead of a civil union. And not some bullsh*t "more palatable to voters" reason either, the truth...

    Everyone in this country knows the term Civil Union. Equally, everyone knows the term Domestic Partnership. And we all know DP sounds like less than Civil Union. Sure, we all want this bill to pass. We all want (and need) these rights guarenteed. But WHY CHANGE THE NAME UNNECESSARILY? Its so frustrating to me that we work and volunteer to get people elected, that our side finally wins, and this is the thanks we get. Are we nothing more than an ATM machine for certain politicians?

    I'm sorry, but didnt the Repubs last year offer "Reciprocal Benefits" that would essentially do the same thing as this law? So are we trying to out "Republican" the Republicans?

  • (Show?)

    Actually, domestic partnership doesn't sound less than civil unions. It's something that is well known to people as a legal union recognized by the government. It's most widely known as something applied to heterosexual couples that haven't gone through a wedding ceremony, but have filed paperwork with the government to have their union recognized.

    It doesn't really matter what words are used -- civil unions or domestic partnerships. The importance is what goes with those words. The only thing that is important when it comes to the wording is this: is it the same or different than what is available for heterosexuals? Until it's the same, we still have work to do.

    And might I point out that Rep. Tina Kotek, who brought forth the amendments, knows personally how important this fight is?

  • Johnpdx79 (unverified)
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    I completely disagree with that, but your opinion is just as valid as mine. To me, domestic partnership means you get someone's health benefits at work. Whereas civil union is marriage in another name, even if in this specific case the actual benefits are the same.

    NJ had domestic partnerships but their State Supreme Court required Civil Unions....

  • Come on John (unverified)
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    Johnpdx79:

    You need to realize that the platable issue is huge. If we lose this on the ballot, which by the way this will be on the ballot-placed by referendum by the Oregon Family Council, were to win... we would be out of luck for a decade. The Legislature would not act on it, therefore we could be waiting for the will of the people, but more likely the Feds to take some sort of action. You actually see that happening? I thought not.

    You compare this to reciprocal benefits. Have it be known that the bill known as "civil unions" yesterday is still the same exact bill, just called domestic partnerships.

    Read the bill. HB 2007. Then come back and comment. You should truly learn exactly what the bill says before spouting off comments not based on truth or fact. Please, for your sake, read the bill. It isn't too long. Just read it!

  • Bill (unverified)
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    Kristin -

    I also love poetry and stories and tales. But my basic rights as a citizen do not and should not depend on anybody's personal faith. My rights rest on an Enlightenment agreement among Americans to grant all citizens equality of opportunity.

    Slowly, and painfully, the definition of who qualifies for basic rights has expanded to include women, Blacks, and other minorities, often in the face of fierce, faith-based opposition. The Supreme Court declared marriage a basic civil right in 1967, while striking down legions of religiously inspired laws and amendments banning interracial marriage across the country.

    There is no avoiding the fact that opposition to the American promise of equality of opportunity for all, including gays and lesbians, is based squarely in religious faith. Without this book or that proclaiming the "immorality" of you and me, and the pastors and priests to broadcast the prejudice - what's the problem?

    Again, it's nice when someone's god thinks equality is spot on, and I certainly welcome their vote. But Jesus Christ (or Mohammed, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster) doesn't make me a real, flesh and blood human, American citizen due the same basic civil protections as parishioners at St. Andrews - it's the U.S. Constitution.

    I know there's a political game being played here, but I'm a husband, father, scientist, American citizen and member of my Oregon community - and I'm done playing games. Religious prejudice is the problem.

  • Johnpdx (unverified)
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    Apparently I am not speaking English....I'll try this again

    I've read the bill...I FULLY REALIZE its the same bill. I have no problem with the bill.....JUST THE RENAMING.

    You see, I've just told several of my friends about the bill being changed from Civil Unions to Domestic Partnerships, and they were all disappointed. Of course, I had to explain that there isn't an actual change...Just a change in name. But it illustrates my point EXACTLY. People recognize "Domestic Partnership" as a glorified boyfriend/girlfriend with health benefits (and perhaps a few other benefits). Much the same as people recognize the term "Civil Union" as marriage in another name. Once again, I realize that this is simply nomenclature here in Oregon because the bill stays the same, but the significance is powerful none the less. Should we pass the bill? Of course. But it ticks me off that we have to change the name to something apparently less offensive to the wingnuts on the right. Which was the point of this posting originally, about the name change!

    I'm terribly disappointed in Rep Tina on this issue. Do we realistically believe that Oregon Family Council is not going to press this issue anyways? They can't help themselves....

    That aside, I do view this as a discussion amongst friends. I love Blue Oregon, and have been a reader (although not a poster) for a couple years now! J

  • (Show?)

    There is no avoiding the fact that opposition to the American promise of equality of opportunity for all, including gays and lesbians, is based squarely in religious faith.

    True enough. Unless of course you start thinking about the role that quakers, congregationalists, and mainline protestant denominations played in ending slavery and in the women's suffragist movement.

    Or unless you consider the role that black churches played in the american civil rights movement.

    It is true that what you say has a kernel of truth to it, though homophobia certainly predates monotheism, but it is no less true that many of the churches that are among the strongest supporters of equal rights for all in today's fight -- the quakers, unitarians, ucc, etc -- have been integral forces in the fight for equal rights throughout American history.

    I'm an American Baptist. I came to that church after studying Martin Luther King's sermons, and after listening to Kent Harrop, the pastor at FBC in McMinnville, speak about equal rights, non-violence, etc.

    What I have found in the church I attend is a congregation and community that embraces equal rights for all and works to translate their faith into action.

    YMMV

  • Misha (unverified)
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    Johnpdx79 wrote: "NJ had domestic partnerships but their State Supreme Court required Civil Unions...."

    This is incorrect. New Jersey had a regime it called "domestic partnerships" but the relevant feature of that regime is that it provided only a few of the rights associated with marriage. Gay couples sued, arguing that they were entitled to all of the rights of marriage. The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed.

    The important point is: the Court explicitly deferred the question of what the institution should be called. It expressed no preference for "civil unions" over "domestic partnerships" or "marriage." It simply said: the Legislature needs to provide all of the same rights and privileges to gay couples.

    The N.J. Legislature then decided to adopt something called "civil unions," which would exceed the protections of their already-existing "domestic partnerships," but fall short of giving gay couples the title "marriage."

    In our case, the "civil unions" and "domestic partnership" bills are the same. There's no difference in the rights being provided. And let's remember, the term "civil union" was an invention of the Vermont Legislature in 2000. Let's not pretend it's this all-important prize, like marriage is. It's just a legalism to describe a marriage-like relationship that gets all of the rights of married couples. So who cares if it's called a civil union or a domestic partnership? I certainly don't.

  • Johninpdx (unverified)
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    They called it Civil Unions because thats common nomenclature for marriage-like unions...Thats pretty common knowledge.

    But then again I've made this point over and over and over...I am not at all speaking about the wording of the BILL ITSELF. I swear people, the title of this particular blog is "WHATS IN A NAME? DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIPS: THE NEW CIVIL UNIONS?" which is precisely why I keep trying to discuss the nature of the name change...not the bill itself.
    I am all for the bill, believe me.

  • Laura Calvo (unverified)
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    Dear Johnpdx, I totally understand what you've said and where you're coming from. It's so sad we have to have this discussion. In a utopic/furure sense marriage would not be constitionaly defined to a man and a woman. Our society would be as enlightened as our neighbors in Europe and other progressive countries. You said: "You see, I've just told several of my friends about the bill being changed from Civil Unions to Domestic Partnerships, and they were all disappointed. Of course, I had to explain that there isn't an actual change...Just a change in name. But it illustrates my point EXACTLY. People recognize "Domestic Partnership" as a glorified boyfriend/girlfriend with health benefits (and perhaps a few other benefits). Much the same as people recognize the term "Civil Union" as marriage in another name.

    It's quite correct the the oppositon will no doubt make a run at ballot measure no mater what we call it. So when we do get into a ballot measure fight it's going to be a lot easier to get people to vote the right way (without being confused) when the time comes. You're correct in that civil unions does sound like marriae by another name and the doemestic partners sounds more like a glorified boy friends or girl friends. I don't doubt that anyone on blue oregon will be confused when it comes time for the vote. But no doubt there will be a lot of Oregonians who like in the past with Measure 36 were confused what a yes vote meant and what a no vote meant. It's a sad but true component of how we are stuck with what we have. The gist and thinking behid all the word switching is we'll have a better chance of protecting Oregon GLBT families. There's been some discussion that the R's are so good at framing the issues (ie; death tax vs inheritence tax). from the looks of all of the conversations so far, we are in agreement that the priority is get the rights in place first. The argument is over the words used. HB 2007 and SB 2 have names that have been carefully crafted so that when it comes time for the ballot measure fight we won't have the confusion and we'll have meaningful wording. Our opponents will have to overcome that obstacle. I'm told that polling has taken place and if there were a vote today, we would stand a better chance of defeating a ballot measure by calling it a Domestic Partnership. It's more in tune with what people in Oregon are used to hearing and it get's us away from the boogy word of marriage which apparently has been copy righted,trade marked and patented by the christian conservatives. Yes it's disappointing and it's not perfect but it's now and it's here. When it passes and survives the ballot measure fight people will see that the end days of armagedon did come, the sky did not fall and frogs did not rain down for 40 days and 40 nights. But GLBT families will be protected by law just the same as hetro families in our life times. Is changing the name to domestic partnerships going to make life more palatable for gay and lesbians? I guess that depends totally on your taste. Maybe it's more than appetizer and less than a full meal. But it's sure closer to dessert than we've ever been in this state. Is it a magic bullet? No it's certainly not a magic bullet in my mind. What we need to do now is write, call, or other wise let our legislators know that they need to pass these bills now. Then we need to continue the work to defeat the ballot measures that will surely ensue. As more and more states pass these kind of laws, the presure and work can be uploaded to a federal level. We took back Oregon in November. In 2008 we take back the country! Make no mistake it going to be an "all hands on deck" effort.

  • Bill (unverified)
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    There is no avoiding the fact that opposition to the American promise of equality of opportunity for all, including gays and lesbians, is based squarely in religious faith.

    True enough. Unless of course you start thinking about the role that quakers, congregationalists, and mainline protestant denominations played in ending slavery and in the women's suffragist movement.

    And that's great. But slavery and the denial of basic voting rights for women are bad for better reasons that "my god says so." I'm glad their god said so, but who were these people fighting? People whose god said the exact opposite.

    People's gods are a lousy basis for granting or denying other people basic civil rights. And our opposition today is purely of this faith-based, religious variety.

    Without religious prejudice, we'd have equal rights.

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    But slavery and the denial of basic voting rights for women are bad for better reasons that "my god says so."

    I won't presume to tell anyone what does or does not constitute a good rationale for doing the right thing. If Martin Luther King's faith led him to fight for civil rights in this country, who am I to tell him that he was doing it for the wrong reasons?

    And our opposition today is purely of this faith-based, religious variety.

    I don't agree. I think that your opposition is purely of the homophobic variety, and some of them are using religion to rationalize their bigotry. The statistics I've seen suggest that most of the people who voted for measure 36 do not regularly attend a church.

  • Bill (unverified)
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    I won't presume to tell anyone what does or does not constitute a good rationale for doing the right thing.

    If they do the right thing (back equality of opportunity for all Americans), I don't care if it's because the Easter Bunny told them to in a dream either. But that Bunny seems to tell a lot of believers quite different tales... And my rights are not contingent on someone's Bunny.

    I think that your opposition is purely of the homophobic variety, and some of them are using religion to rationalize their bigotry.

    ALL of them use religion to rationalize their bigotry. Again, who can provide a non-religious, non-faith-based rationale for this kind of prejudice? The local Catholic Archbishop isn't quoting Einstein here (or Jefferson).

    The statistics I've seen suggest that most of the people who voted for measure 36 do not regularly attend a church.

    A huge majority of Oregonians voted for Measure 36, and that clearly included many church-going religious people, both red and blue.

    My son (8) just asked me this morning: "Aren't the Baptists the ones who won't let you dance?"

  • Johnpdx (unverified)
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    Laura.. Thank you much for your reasoned and well thought out response. I certainly see all of your points, and getting the law passed itself is the most important (and keeping the law, once passed).

    Its just frustrating as hell that we have to capitulate.. thats all.

  • (Show?)

    ALL of them use religion to rationalize their bigotry. Again, who can provide a non-religious, non-faith-based rationale for this kind of prejudice?

    Homophobia and bigotry based on homophobia are not dependent on any rationale for their existence. The very definition of a phobia is "irrational fear".

    How many people who attended high school or college in the United States really believe that most males base their fear of gays on religion rather than something like "uhh, is that dude checking me out?".

    Also, there's a huge difference between the beliefs of American Baptists, many of whose congregations are aligned to the UCC, and Southern Baptists of the "footloose" variety.

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    "Civil unions" sounds kind of dry and legalistic. "Domestic partnerships" sounds warm and familial. And nobody should knock BRO when Oregon is about to become the first state that passed a marriage ban to then expand legal rights for gay folks.

  • Bill (unverified)
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    Sal -

    Trust me - remove religion, and the "whoa, that dude's checking me out" crowd isn't a 60-plus majority of Oregon voters. I don't think the insecure high school/college locker room delegation just went to lobby the Legislature, either.

    It is nice to hear the Baptists are "evolving..." But, dancing or not, their god (or Bunny) should not determine who gets civil rights.

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    Alright, Bill. I'll bite.

    How about these for some non-religiously based arguments:

    "If these bills pass, I won't be comfortable sending my daughter to public schools, because it will be possible for a male teacher to use the girls' bathrooms."

    "If these bills pass, there will be mandatory instruction in the schools about the specifics of how to practice the homosexual lifestyle."

    "The average life expectancy of a homosexual is 44 years."

    None of those is true. None. They are based in fear. Just because some churches are used as instruments for disseminating these lies, doesn't make them religiously-based lies.

  • Bill (unverified)
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    None of those are true. None. They are based in fear. Just because some churches are used as instruments for disseminating these lies, doesn't make the religiously based lies.

    Right - not one of those allegations is true. They are evidence-free, and based in fear, ignorance, and stupidity. You have to swallow 'em whole, without investigating. And they are, naturally, promoted by religious organizations, alongside their supernatural claims that Baal, or Jesus, hates gays and lesbians.

    Who else, aside from the religious in the OFC, promotes these lies? Do you really think the vast majority of Oregonians who supported Measure 36 were non-religious people worried about men using the girls bathroom?(!)

    Kristin - I am sure you have a better political nose for this than I do. Embracing the good Bunny believers and dancing Baptists is probably the smartest political strategy. But we are not due equal rights (or deserve to lose them) because of anybody's faith-based claims.

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    "we are not due equal rights (or deserve to lose them) because of anybody's faith-based claims."

    Absolutely true.

    We are due equal rights because we are human beings.

    For me, "Embracing the good Bunny believers and dancing Baptists" is not just a good political move, it's part and parcel to the idea of equal rights. I want to be treated with respect. For that reason I try to treat everyone with respect, regardless of how they choose to treat me. (Note: I don't always succeed.)

    Aside from that, the argument that this is a gay vs. religious issue does not serve us politically, and it is, in my mind, untrue.

  • Bill (unverified)
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    For that reason I try to treat everyone with respect, regardless of how they choose to treat me.

    Hi Kristin -

    Thanks for the dialogue...

    I treat people with respect (I've never ONCE tried to deny basic civil rights like marriage to someone because of their religious beliefs, or for any other reason)

    But people's arguments, particularly when used to deny my basic humanity, deserve much closer and more critical scrutiny. And OFC religious arguments are without any factual basis (and are often mean-spirited and silly, too).

    I'm thrilled that smart political people like yourself are shepherding legislation to establish a non-portable, second-class package of legal "partnership" rights and benefits for gays and lesbians. It's not equality, but it will make life better.

    But I also know that religion should be separate from state.
    Religious arguments are no reliable friend of state guarantees of equality. The same imaginary beings that capriciously grant rights in one mind mean-spiritedly yank them away in too many others. And my rights, and yours, derive from state guarantees, not from anybody's Baptist Beings or Bunnies...

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    Indeed. I appreciate the dialogue.

    After working very hard as staff for the No on 36 campaign - and losing, then working as staff on the SB1000 campaign - and losing, I set up shop as a same-sex estate planning attorney. After less than a year, I left the practice because I couldn't handle the stress of knowing that if I made one mistake, my friends would be denied any of the already inadequate protections that they can get from legal documents.

    Thank you for the compliments, but I am no shepherd in this. Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships are a band-aid: something to stop the hemorrhaging that families are currently enduring. For that reason I support them, shoulder to shoulder with true-believers and pragmatists.

    If you'd like to know what the Democratic Party of Oregon has committed to, take a look at the platform and principles. My favorite is the following:

    "We support legislation to guarantee equal legal status, including all rights, protections and responsibilities, to all committed relationship partners, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."

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    On Tuesday, April 17th, the Oregon House of Representatives, under Democratic leadership and control will pass both the Domestic Partnership bill (HB 2007) and the non-discrimination bill (SB 2). Neither of these bills would have passed if Democrats had not won a majority in both the House and the Senate.

    Now, the difference between "domestic partnership" and "civil union" is absolutely zero. And it ill serves the party that has stood for equality throughout recent history in Oregon to launch an unreasoning diatribe against it and its members in the House and Senate on the specious grounds that there is any difference. The fact of the matter is that Rep. Tina Kotek, the only out Lesbian in the Oregon House, who desired the change in terms.

    The person who raised this thread is vice-chair of the Oregon Democratic Party's LGBT Caucus and therefore is duty bound to support rather than denigrate the party, particularly when it is struggling to do the right thing for gays and lesbians in this state honestly and forthrightly. The same person is also one of two representatives of Oregon Stonewall Democrats to the national Stonewall Democrats board. How do we suppose that looks to lesbian and gay Democrats all across the country?

    It is incumbent on me, as one of the gay Democrats selected by party officers to be a candidate for the Oregon House last year, to spell out just how grateful I am that Tina Kotek made it to the House. I am both proud and grateful that Speaker Merkley and HB 2007's many sponsors had the courage and the conviction to bring that bill to the floor.

    Again, none of this would have happened but for the devotion and financial support of the men and women of the Democratic Party for Democratic Party candidates all across the state. I am grateful and proud that I was in a position to keep my opponent, a knuckle-dragging Republican, from spending his campaign cash on other similar Republicans.

    We have a challenge to meet. We must create a public awareness that discrimination against lesbians and gays in this state is over, over, over. Basic Rights Oregon has committed itself to this task, I am committed to this task as long as I live (but I'm now 76). We, lesbian and gay Americans, are in the midst of an unfortunately long struggle to overcome over 5000 years of religion-based animosity.

    Let us stay united. Civil unions will work until we can overcome the prejudice in the minds of those who can be brought to understand. Then we will be able to repeal the hateful "definition of marriage" amendment to the state Constitution. But we'll only do it by staying united.

    Lee Coleman www.LeeColeman.org

  • Brandon Berg (unverified)
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    WW on this issue

    They have the polling numbers that speak volumes to the political strategy behind the change in the bills. 41% of voters would support a repeal of civil unions for same sex couples while only 23% would support a repeal of domestic partnerships. For all of those ranting about the efficiency of BRO...isn't it more efficient to change the name of relationship recognition for an 18% difference in public acceptance of these rights?

    Smart move!

  • Newt (unverified)
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    Domestic partnership or civil union, whatever it's called, it’s a step toward equal rights. If our elected progressive leaders think this name change will keep it from being repealed, I think we should trust them, not trash them. I personally think the change is a good political strategy, although it hurts my heart to realize we have to accept “separate and not equal” for a while longer. If critics of the name change think they can do a better job than BRO and Rep. Tina Kotek, please quit complaining and step up to do some of the work.

    Anti-gay religious “family” groups are well organized and are fighting against civil union legislation all over the country. Thanks to Bush’s initiatives that fund “organizations of faith,” they have lots of money and massive communications networks in place. This year, as in previous years, the Catholic and Mormon Churches are spending huge amounts fighting civil union legislation in other states. Hawaii can’t even get their civil union bill out of committee, thanks to previous Church interference with state politics (they destroyed the careers of at least five politicians who stood up for gay marriage in the 1990’s). These religious groups already have their Civil Unions=Marriage buttons and flyers printed and ready to disseminate, and could easily convince many Oregonians to repeal this law. Religious groups on our side support us, but aren’t fighting rabidly to get their way. Don’t forget, the “people” of Oregon just voted to amendment to the state constitution to define marriage even though that action oppresses some of our citizens. Sure, you didn’t vote that way. But did you vote? Did you get your friends to vote? Did you do everything you possibly could to ensure the amendment didn’t pass?

    Right, then, maybe a lot of us could have done a lot more. So we may have to compromise, again. Yes, it hurts. But let’s stop trashing our leaders in public. If they make mistakes, feel free to help them. And I don’t mean by bad-mouthing them on a blog. For those of you who feel frustrated at the control that hate-religions have over our lives and our laws, direct your anger toward the institutions that are oppressing us: the Catholic and Mormon Churches and the anti-family political groups that they fund. If you still feel the need to criticize Basic Rights Oregon, perhaps you should join it and put your energy into making it work better. Or start a new organization for proactive work, to remove the hateful marriage definition in our constitution. Better yet, work to amend the state constitution to say "The State of Oregon shall not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation." In the meantime, let’s support our brave leaders, organizers and volunteers. Communicate what you’d like to see done differently, but enough with the public trashing. These people are on our side.

  • wep601 (unverified)
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    I love this comment (quoted below)! I wish more of humanity would shout that! I mean honestly, who are they kidding? Well, clearly enough of the conservative "Christians" in OR. to throw a wrench in any movement forward toward equality and fairness.

    (Posted by: Steven Maurer) <<I just wish people would stop calling bigots "religous". Hating other people has nothing to do with religion, and has everything to do with pretending you're perfect by pointing out what you see as flaws in everybody else.

    Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure there was a man born some 2000 years ago who said the same thing.>>

  • wep601 (unverified)
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    (previous post ommitted the main content of the quote I wanted to copy and "amen"...)

    Posted by: Steven Maurer "I just wish people would stop calling bigots "religous". Hating other people has nothing to do with religion, and has everything to do with pretending you're perfect by pointing out what you see as flaws in everybody else."

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