I'm Your Neighbor

Kristin Flickinger

On Friday, a federal court issued a ruling lifting the temporary restraining order that prevented same sex couples from entering into Domestic Partnerships. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) couples will now receive the rights and protections granted to them under HB 2007, the landmark legislation passed during the last legislative session – thanks to a Democratic majority. It granted same-sex couples the right to domestic partnerships in Oregon.

While members of the GLBT community ready themselves for long-awaited celebrations, the GLBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Oregon is launching our “I’m Your Neighbor” campaign to make sure that the support for equality exists not only in our legislature and courts, but also in our neighborhoods.

We’re asking everyone who can to stand up and come out, privately to their friends and families, and publicly through letters to the editor.

We have to come out, because in order for Oregonians to care about GLBT people, they have to know who we are. Fortunately, who we are is pretty powerful – we’re daughters and brothers, coworkers and neighbors. We sit next to each other at church and at the bowling alley – and, it’s time we introduce ourselves.

The only way to achieve long term success—permanent equality—is by having conversations. When our allies stand behind us, they do it because they know someone who is GLBT. So take the time to come out to someone you know, and give them the chance to be an ally.

Send a letter to the editor and give all of our communities the chance to stand up for their GLBT neighbors.

You can send your letters through the Oregon House Democrats website and view a sample letter on the GLBT Caucus website.

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    You're right, of course. I have observed my own mother's attitudes evolving as she realized that she actually knew people who were "that way." %^>

    Today (she'll be 79 next month) she is still in the "just don't call it marriage" camp, but I think there's a little evolution left in the old girl.

    There is hope. It will all happen. And it will be quicker than we think.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Kristin, Welcome to the Neighborhood!

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    I've never been as openly and actively involved in my LGBTQ community as I am now and it's still amazing to me. Having lived in Texas most of my life, I still find myself looking for people's reactions when they realize that I'm "that way" as Stephanie's mom says (I smile when I hear that phrase now).

    I am someone's neighbor. I'm alot of people's neighbor, and contrary to the unfounded fears of a few, the sky won't fall down when they know me face to face.

    Thanks for all of your work Kristin.

  • Bob R. (unverified)

    My partner and I rushed down to San Francisco when the city was issuing marriage licenses. (We knew it was legally risky and we were not surprised when the licenses were later nullified, but it was definitely worth the trip).

    The timing of our arrival put us near the front of the line on Valentine's Day, and thus in front of a number of TV cameras.

    I had already been out to two of my grandparents, but not my paternal grandmother. Guessing that she may have seen us on TV, I thought it best to get in touch with her quickly. She had indeed seen the coverage, and her reaction was basically this: "Well, it wasn't unexpected ... and Jason seems like a wonderful person ... but your wedding clothes weren't up to snuff!"

    In retrospect, I never should have waited so long to come out to her.

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)

    Kristin's right -

    Volunteering in our boys' classrooms, helping with school auction projects, sending out holiday picture cards, bringing the whole family to work and neighborhood celebrations and events has directly challenged the religious prejudice that still keeps us worth less legally than other families, and caused several people to alter long-held views...

  • Jon Renner (unverified)

    I still don't get it.....who really cares about your sexual practices done in the privacy of your abode?

    I don't.

    Feel free to introduce yourselves, and talk, and whatever...but don't frame EVERYTHING you do, seek and say in the nauseatingly contrite context of sex preference. No one is buying it and never will. Whinning not permitted, either.

    Again...I DON"T CARE!!! Don't take it personally. It's the movement that is causing you so much righteous indignation. Start there for a chnage.

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)

    Again...I DON"T CARE!!! Don't take it personally. It's the movement that is causing you so much righteous indignation. Start there for a chnage.

    Someone obviously cares - in fact, they care enough to amend the state constitution so that our families are now worth less, legally, than yours.

    And being out in public doesn't mean an explicit discussion of sexuality - it simply means that you're visible, as a fellow family, with your spouse and kids, like a helluva lot of other Oregon families, contributing to and engaging in our community...

    And suddenly it's harder for "straight" families, who suddenly see you as the human friends, neighbors, etc. that you clearly are, to maintain the baseless Catholic/Mormon/Christian prejudice that continues to separate us, legally.

    And the times they will change, until one day (maybe when my kids are in college), every American family will receive full equality under the law...

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)

    I love George Carlin, who was recently quoted on a related post - he clearly identified the ultimately pathetic opposition that we face here: "religious people who think a little man, in the sky, actually cares where you put your hands!"

    Gandhi's got a relevant quote here, too: "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

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    Feel free to introduce yourselves, and talk, and whatever...but don't frame EVERYTHING you do, seek and say in the nauseatingly contrite context of sex preference.

    Jon, I can understand the impulse here - but it's worth spending a little time noting how often we heterosexuals "frame everything [we] do, seek and say in the nauseatingly contrite context of sex preference."

    Whether it's the photo of your spouse on your desk at work, or casually mentioning to a friend what you and your wife did for fun this weekend, or broader social phenomena like "Desperate Housewives" and "The Bachelor" -- our society is infused with references to people's sex preference.

    Heterosexuals say things that casually, even subconsciously, refer to their sex preference all the time - and no one notices, because it's so boring and bland.

    When a gay man says, "Yeah, we had a fun weekend too. My boyfriend and I went to the movies".... is that really a reference to their sex preference? Or is it a trite comment about their weekend?

    That comment only sounds jarring or "nauseating" if you think that homosexuality is somehow wrong or immoral. For the rest of us, it's just another boring conversation - not something to get all upset about.

    If you're bothered by trite comments that refer to homosexual sex preference, but unbothered by trite comments that refer to heterosexual sex preference, the problem lives inside you -- not with the person making the comment.

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    Kari's point is perhaps best expressed in ironic T-shirt form:

    I don't mind straight people, as long as they act gay in public.

  • Leo Schuman (unverified)

    Some of my best friends are straight.

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)

    Hey - score a big win for equality!

    A New York state appeals court just ruled, 5-0, that same-sex marriages validly performed in other jurisdictions are entitled to recognition in New York.

    This means that my marriage, performed in Canada, is recognized - fully - in New York. That is, my family would be treated equally under the law in New York!

    In contrast, Oregon's paltry, unfamiliar, second class "civil union" means zip in New York. Not that this bugs Marilyn Shannon, or the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, or the Mormon Church, or Mount Olivet Baptist, or any other local religious institutions and individuals that have worked so hard and passionately to bring my family down.

    Check out the editorial in today's NY Times... http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/05/opinion/05tue2.html?ref=opinion

    Yahoo! Go New York!

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)

    Dang - just remembered - we still wouldn't have federal benefits in New York...

    But hey - it allows us to get full state recogniztion as a married couple, with kids, which is a better legal status from which to argue for federal recognition...

    And New York thus joins other reasonable (i.e., less religiously prejudiced) regions of the world (Canada, much of Europe, South Africa, etc.) in acknowledging marriage rights...

    And we don't need to pay Multnomah County another unequally applied "tax" for a substandard list of benefits ("civil union") that couples married in other jurisdictions automatically receive.

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