The sky isn't falling in California.

By Gordon Morehouse of Portland, Oregon. Gordon Morehouse is a software developer living in Portland.

GaymarriageWell, it's been several weeks since gay and lesbian couples started getting married in our neighboring state to the South. Looking down that way, it seems to me that the sky is still intact and has not fallen. There aren't even any cracks. Here in Portland, we've recently handed the keys to the city (effective January 2009) to Sam Adams, our first openly-gay mayor. Progress abounds.

What I'm wondering is if events at home and beyond our borders add up to a ticking clock for Measure 36, Oregon's 2004 ballot initiative which enshrined discriminatory language into the Oregon Constitution stating, in sum: It is the policy of Oregon, and its political subdivisions, that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage.

The legislature passed a "domestic partnership" bill in 2007 which, after the usual court wrangling, finally took effect in February 2008. This bill grants most of the rights and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples. Key word: most. The statute is crafted such that domestic partnerships are valid only in the state of Oregon, meaning they carry no weight whatsoever in other states including Massachusetts and California.

If the past 50 years in this country's history have taught us anything, it is that "separate but equal" is never truly equal. To me, gay marriage is a civil rights issue fundamentally the same as the issues of the Civil Rights Movement, specifically interracial marriage and the racist anti-miscegenation laws. Simply put, the state has no legitimate interest in denying the right of a loving, committed, unrelated adult couple to marry. None. The race and gender of the adults in question is irrelevant. Not one argument against the right of same-sex couples to marry has ever been supported by any combination of correct logical reasoning and factual evidence, just as with interracial marriage.

So with the sky staying above ground to our south, and with our friends and neighbors here in Oregon now entering into separate-and-partially-equal domestic partnerships, will the wheels of public opinion turn such that we'll eventually see the discriminatory language of Measure 36 struck from the Oregon Constitution? Will Sam Adams have any aces up his sleeve when he takes the reins in Portland?

Oh, and can you find anything wrong with the picture above? I sure can't.

  • Rev. Terri Echelbarger (unverified)

    Look South too! Canada has been doing same-sex marriages for several years now ... and their economny (as well as the sky) is managing just fine in spite of all the love being thrown around. Imagine! Freedom to love the person of one's own choice. Splendid!

  • Murphy (unverified)

    Irony alert!

    In today TImes Magazine is a fawning article about that terminal narcissist Rush Limbaugh. Most of the article is neither here nor there, but the juicy bit is that Clarence Thomas officiated at Limbaugh's THIRD marriage.

    Okay -- right-wingers, now explain to me again who's violating the sanctity of marriage?

  • LiberalIncarnate (unverified)

    I applaud California for moving forward. However, the real test will be in November to see if these new found rights remain intact.

    Then, here in Oregon should M36 remain in place after its debut with the Oregon Supreme Court, will Oregonians really be ready to overturn it at the ballot box? Once in place, it will be far more difficult to remove it than it was putting it there.

    The fact is, the people that need the most convincing are the Democrats that voted for Kerry and also M36 in 2004.

  • Flex (unverified)

    You're correct. Life in California hasn't changed, and it will continue to be the major, international, metropolitan, destination for the world. However, nothing is ideal. We continue to have a few pockets of right-wing, Christian, bible-thumping lunatics, mostly angry sound bites from Colorado, who are like an infection called appendisitus, or like a computer program that needs to be returned to it's source. Their religion doesn't have anything to do with god, and has everything to do with unity in a spirit of hate. If gay people were asking for oxygen, they would be against it. In fact, the only thing that makes their bottoms twitch in the pews is the mentioning of happy gay people living out their lives. Right-wing Christians are obsessed with this reality, and keep their colons twisted in knots until they have thouroughly amputated any possibility of normality associated with gay life. So, rise up against these ignorant pigs, and support marriage for everyone.

  • Lani (unverified)

    Ignorance is the only reason we don't have a fair and equal treatment for gays in Oregon. Why does society put legal barriers in the way of peaceful and productive citizens? If they love each other, their kids, their families, if they pay taxes and contribute to their community, then what's the problem?

    I will never understand the obsession some religious groups with the LBGT communities. I don't think the term "Christian" applies to people who are more concerned with condemnation than compassion.

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)

    Legalizing gay marriage is appropriate and inevitable. It's just a matter of time before the states that don't legalize it are the exceptions, not the rule. The idea that marriage must be between a man and a woman makes little more than that it must be between two members of the same race, or that it must be between a man and a woman who pledge to have children. If we allow interracial marriage, and if we allow a man and a woman to wed without plans to procreate, then why shouldn't we allow a same sex couple to wed?

  • Steve (unverified)

    Gay marriage is something that is both oxymoronic and morally wrong . Fortunately, the vast majority of our states in this nation still oppose it. When you say 'Look South', perhaps you shouldn't be looking South to Mexifornia which has become an embarrassment to the whole nation but rather to THE South where constitutional amendments banning such marriages in all but one state have passed with more than 70% of the vote. THE South is really the happening place in America these days.

    As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation? I think not. I urge all Californians to repeal the unconstitutional actions of CA's supreme court.

  • Douglas K (unverified)

    Then, here in Oregon should M36 remain in place after its debut with the Oregon Supreme Court, will Oregonians really be ready to overturn it at the ballot box? Once in place, it will be far more difficult to remove it than it was putting it there.

    Measure 36 passed 58-42 in 2004. Between changing attitudes in individuals and shifting demographics (older voters dying off and the most pro-gay-marriage voters, todays teenagers, turning 18), support for a gay marriage ban would be weaker today.

    If a repeal measure were put on the ballot in 2010 or 2012, it would stand a good chance of passing. If it failed, try again four or six years after that.

  • Murphy (unverified)

    "Gay marriage is something that is both oxymoronic and morally wrong ."

    Fortunately, Steve, you're not the grand arbiter of what is and what isn't moral in our society. And just as anti-miscegenation laws were overturned a generation ago, (most of them from the South) eventually so too will the laws preventing full legal recognition of gay partnerships.

    We all have a hand in the process of creating a collective morality, and even a cursory look at the history of the West unveils a slow but inevitable grind toward the granting of basic individual rights for those who fall within communities traditionally excluded from the mainstream of American culture, like racial minorities, women, and some religious groups (Catholics and Mormons come to mind here). Like the southern conservatives of 60 years ago, you're on the wrong side of history.

    You see, no one is asking you to like gay and lesbians, or even "approve" of their unions (as if not having your approval would cause them a second thought). Yet you insist on defiantly standing in their way to satisfy some deep-seated resentment that the world is not as you'd wish it to be.

    You may live by your prejudiced version of morality all you like, but thankfully, the rest of us don't have to.

  • Al (unverified)

    Personally, I think the gay marriage thing is running out of steam. Rememmber, it failed in Arizona which is let's say pinkish. If it can fail there, it can go down in California too. It will be interesting to see.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    Steve: "Mexifornia which has become an embarrassment to the whole nation...."

    Mexifornia. There's a new one for me. But a new one in the wingnut lexicon? Dunno. Sounds like a Dittohead term.

    Perhaps Steve can explain why "Mexifornia" is an embarrassment to the whole nation. Details please, Steve.

    Steve: THE South is really the happening place in America these days.

    Forgive me, but there are many days, especially days when I read comment's like Steve's, when I find the Neo-Confederacy movement pretty appealing--days when I think, let's let those folks have their own little Christo-fascist "republic", and leave the rest of us to get on with the business of turning what remains of the United States into something closer to the progressive vision.

  • RichW (unverified)

    Me too! I have ecently come to the conclusion that Texas needs to be its own country.

    <h2>Would you rather raise children in Mississippi or California></h2>
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