Which Senate candidate has a strong record of fairness and freedom for gay and lesbian Americans?

By Laura Calvo of Portland, Oregon. Laura is the treasurer of the Multnomah County Democrats and the DPO GLBT Caucus, a national board member of the Stonewall Democrats, the recipient of Basic Rights Oregon's 2008 Spirit of Pride award, and a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. (And below, she speaks only for herself.)

In an article published in Politico Patrick Sammons, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, warns the GOP that marriage politics will not have the same effect on voters this election cycle as it did in 2004.

Acceptance of loving, committed gay and lesbian couples is on the rise and, consequently, the marriage debate does not have the same heat it used to. Republicans who try exploiting the issue for political gain this November will fail. And they’ll further alienate the young people who are already leaving the GOP in droves.

Hmm, ok, so what else does the leader of the Gay Republicans have to say?

Unfortunately, prospects for House and Senate Republicans look bleak in November.

OK, no big surprise there, what else?

Republicans also spent much of 2006 debating divisive wedge issues such as a federal constitutional ban on marriage equality...

and

Making these wedge issues a prominent part of the GOP agenda made the party look out of touch with the priorities of average Americans. This disconnect with average voters cost Republicans the majority in Congress — pollsters agree Democrats won in 2006 because of independents (exit polls showed independents voting for Democrats by 57 percent to 39 percent).

But then he mentions the "S" word (Smith) and makes it sound like Smith has a great record of supporting the fairness and freedom of gays & lesbians.

Interestingly enough, the two GOP U.S. senators targeted by Democrats, who should be in the most electoral danger given their constituency — Susan Collins of Maine and Gordon Smith of Oregon, are in the best position to win reelection in 2008. Not surprisingly, both Smith and Collins have strong records in favor of fairness and freedom for gay and lesbian Americans.

Whoa! I said whoa big fella! wait a minute. Smith does not have what I would call a strong record in regards to the fairness and freedom for gay and lesbian Americans.

In 2002, the Human Rights Campaign endorsed Smith in his bid for the US Senate seat from Oregon.

In 2003, while the Oregon Legislature was holding the first-ever hearing on what is now the Oregon's inclusive nondiscrimination law, Smith was silent. As a US Senator and as someone with such a "strong" record why did he not come out in support of this law?

In 2004, Smith Supported Measure 36, which amended the Oregon Constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman.

In 2005, Smith was again strangely silent on supporting Oregon Senate Bill 100, which would have created domestic partnerships and banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In 2006, Smith voted in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment in the U.S. Senate. But let's not forget that his vote was just one of the 85% of votes he gives away, like a vending machine on tilt, to the Bush Administration in deep and stark contrast to the wishes of the majority of Oregonians.

In 2007 the real record continues....

There was still no vocal support nor any evident behind-the-scenes support from Smith for Domestic Partnerships and banning discrimination in 2007. The year that did finally bring us The Oregon Family Fairness Act and the Oregon Equality Act which we now have as law in Oregon. Those laws granted all the rights and privileges of marriage on a state level, banned discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation, and expanded the hate crimes law to include gender identity. But absolutely nobody in Oregon or elsewhere can thank this sitting US Senator for supporting, or even lifting a finger to help these laws pass, let alone refer to this record as a strong supporter.

In background, all of these laws were recommended to the legislature as a part of the Democratic Party of Oregon platform, Basic Rights Oregon advocacy and leadership, and a Governors Task force comprised of business leaders, clergy, and citizens of Oregon. Not to mention the important role the Human Rights Campaign played in support of these laws.

Smith also supported an extremist Judge Leslie Southwick:

Southwick agreed with the decision to remove an 8-year-old girl from her birth mother largely because she was living with another woman in a lesbian home. Southwick joined the opinion that sexual orientation is a choice.

To say the least, Gordon Smith does not have a strong record of supporting fairness and freedom for gay and lesbians. He actually voted and acted in betrayal of the Human Rights Campaign endorsement received in 2002. Interestingly enough he wooed and courted the HRC when he was running for election, then went back to his true colors. A deeply red shade of conservative millionaire republican politician, relieved to not have to pander excessively any further until 2008.

Meanwhile, in very sharp contrast, Oregonians do have an actual U.S. Senate candidate who actually has the credentials to say he does have more than a strong record of supporting true equality and fairness for all LGBT people and their families. That is Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives Jeff Merkley.

In 2005 while Smith was busy being silent on the issues, then Republican Speaker of the House Karen Minnis used some arcane procedural tactics to scuttle the hopes for Domestic Partnerships and an anti discrimination law. Jeff Merkley, House minority leader in 2005, fought visibly tooth and nail against Minnis' mean spirited 11th hour scuttle of the bill. He along with other progressive Democrats vowed to take back the Oregon House and to make the Oregon Family Fairness Act and the Oregon Equality Act a top priority.

Jeff Merkley actively led in the Oregon House, pulling together the votes needed to pass these historic pieces of legislation and doing so in the face of fierce opposition.

Mr. Sammons, that's I would call a "strong record in favor of fairness and freedom for gay and lesbian Americans".

Comments

  • (Show?)

    "Oregonians do have an actual U.S. Senate candidate who actually has the credentials to say he does have more than a strong record of supporting true equality and fairness for all LGBT people and their families. "

    Did we get a new Senate candidate in the race? Neither major party candidate from Oregon supports "true equality," both are against same sex civil marriage. Merkley's support for civil unions is great, but it's a sad joke to call that "true equality."

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: torridjoe | Jul 8, 2008 1:04:04 PM

    Thanks buddy but I gotta be honest here - I'm starting to get a bit sore from your constant fellation.

    Although I do admire your dedication and seemingly unquenchable desire to blow me every time someone mentions my opponent, save some for your wife, eh?

  • Jack Sullivan (unverified)
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    In other news of the day, Torridjoe continues his support of Gordon Smith by over-parsing a second-hand report of something Jeff Merkley might or might not have said at a private event - while ignoring what he's told the media and said in public.

  • (Show?)

    In other news, hopeless Merkley partisans continue to ignore documented substantiation of the claim (reported multiple times in mainstream media)--preferring instead to obfuscate by pretending it's really masked support for Gordon Smith.

    Gordon, if you'll look closely I say you don't support marriage equality, either. Nice try. Sort of takes the starch out of your fallacious belief I support you, doesn't it?

  • (Show?)

    Jack, it's called foreplay.

    Don't inhibit the lad. This post about fairness and freedom for gays and lesbians. That ought to include Torridjoe's (hopefully less frequent) desire to get his groove on underneath my desk. But rest assured that I will continue to present a very different face to the public as per my usual MO.

    It's kinda like Vegas. What happens under my desk, stays under my desk. Well, except that Mark here can't seem to resist exhibiting his latent desires in public. Alas, I have no fears about it being taken seriously. This is Mark Bunster we're talking about afterall.

  • Sarah Lane (unverified)
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    As a member of the Merkley staff, I'd like to set the record straight. Jeff Merkley is for marriage equality for all Americans. Merkley also worked hard to pass domestic partnerships legislation and anti-discrimination legislation.

    sarahlane, netroots director for OR-Sen candidate Jeff Merkley

  • (Show?)

    Gordon, if you'll look closely I say you don't support marriage equality, either. Nice try. Sort of takes the starch out of your fallacious belief I support you, doesn't it?

    Marky Mark, we both know better than that. I never suggested that you said I support it, and your support for me is well documented right here on this blog, not to mention DKos, LO and others.

    More tongue and less teeth, buddy.

  • (Show?)

    Torrid Joe's man crush on Steve Novick continues on. Even Steve Novick has moved on. Give it a rest.

  • (Show?)

    "This is Mark Bunster we're talking about afterall."

    Well, at least we know now that "Gordon" is one of the "Mark Bunster" stalkers, who seem to get some kind of masturbatory pleasure out of avoiding my internet handle.

  • (Show?)

    "As a member of the Merkley staff, I'd like to set the record straight. Jeff Merkley is for marriage equality for all Americans."

    He has claimed this, but cannot explain how you have same sex civil marriage if government should be kept out of marriage. (Or has yet to fully explain it).

  • (Show?)

    "Torrid Joe's man crush on Steve Novick continues on."

    You're the one thinking of him, not me. What possible importance does Novick have relative to Merkley's position on same sex marriage (other than providing a model on how to support marriage equity?)

    Give it a rest. The primary's over. Let's talk about the candidates running.

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
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    Whoa! I said whoa big fella! wait a minute. Smith does not have what I would call a strong record in regards to the fairness and freedom for gay and lesbian Americans.

    Damn straight (!). All that pro-Measure 36 literature, with Gordon Smith's face plastered on it, and Gordon Smith quotes urging voters to amend our constitution to selectively deny gay and lesbian Oregonians a pretty basic civil right...

    What's remarkable, however, is that DC-based Human Rights Campaign (HRC) WON'T endorse Merkley, despite his apparent (if unbelievably quiet) support for marriage equality. In an e-mail I received from an HRC staffer, Smith was described, confusingly, as a "pro-GLBT Republican."

    To me a U.S. Senator who worked hard and successfully to restrict my family's legal rights through vocal support of Measure 36 is not a "pro-GLBT Republican." And a Senator who votes for the Federal Marriage Amendment is not "pro-GLBT," either.

    But then I don't live in DC. And HRC founder Terry Bean is apparently BFF with Smith. (and I guess you can always buy many rights of marriage with enough tax cut cash)

    *** But if you are also wondering why HRC won't endorse Jeff Merkley, the actual (if very quiet) "pro-GLBT" candidate in this race, you can always contact them directly...

    [email protected] HRC Front Desk: 202/628-4160 Toll-Free: 800/777-4723

    Human Rights Campaign 1640 Rhode Island Avenue NW Washington, DC 20036-3278

  • (Show?)

    the recipient of Basic Rights Oregon's 2008 Spirit of Pride award

    Just to clarify, the Spirit of Pride award is given by Pride Northwest, Inc., not BRO. BRO was gracious enough to make the announcement for it on their site.:)

    As for the post, as someone who got to hear Merkley's answers about gay marriage in the same meeting where other candidates answered the same thing, there was no doubt left by Merkley, or in my mind, that he absolutely supports gay marriage. He didn't talk about "rights for all" or "equality" or "civil unions" when asked the question. He answered in the affirmative, about gay marriage

  • (Show?)

    the recipient of Basic Rights Oregon's 2008 Spirit of Pride award

    To clarify, the Spirit of Pride award is given by Pride Northwest, Inc, not BRO. Basic Rights oregon was gracious enough to announce the award on their site.:)

    Merkley's record of support for my community speaks for itself. I will take straight to my face answers from him that have been consistent from day one,over second-hand references to a comment made at some event I never attended and never witnessed myself any day of the week.

  • Mike Schryver (unverified)
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    I've heard Merkley say more than once, in public, in person, that he supports full marriage equality. I've never heard him say anything that contradicts that.

    I have no doubt that Jeff Merkley fully supports our community.

  • (Show?)

    Mike, watch the WW endorsement video. You'll hear him agree with his 2004 statement that marriage should be between a couple and their God, not government. And then fail to address the contradiction.

    You can't have same sex civil marriage without the "civil" part.

  • (Show?)

    Jeff Merkley has repeatedly stated, publicly and privately, that he supports marriage equality for all Americans. He is a strong, solid, and publicly proven ally of the LGBT community, and the only friend our community has in this race.

    But, how do we achieve national marriage equality? From my experience with him through the DPO GLBT Caucus, I believe Jeff Merkley respects the LGBT community too much to pretend that he - a straight male - has "the" plan and "the" legislation to deal with the many legal and social issues related to gay marriage. Frankly, I would consider any candidate who pretended otherwise to be pandering, given the current national landscape on the issue.

    The planning and strategy on this issue are driven from within the LGBT community, not by political candidates. Jeff Merkley is a strong and committed ally, working with our community, not trying to tell us what to do. I am very glad for that respect, and for his solid support. He certainly has mine.

  • (Show?)

    Torridjoe, do you identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender? If so, are you involved in a committed relationship?

    I hope you choose to answer these questions, as they directly relate to your credibility when discussing gay marriage as a political issue. There's a big difference between batting around progressive issues du jour, and having skin in the game.

  • (Show?)

    You can't have same sex civil marriage without the "civil" part.

    You can't have opposite-sex civil marriage without the "civil" part either, you vapid twit.

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)
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    If Merkely says he's for gay marriage then take him at his word. Most politicians run from that idea. Thank God Oregon has a candidate who embraces it. (And yes, my friend Mr. Novick would, of course, strongly concur that gay people have every right to marry!)

  • (Show?)

    To address torridjoe's confusion, there are two distinct goals from the LGBT end of the gay marriage "debate":

    1. legal equality
    2. social recognition

    Most fair-minded people, even self-described conservatives, agree with the first goal. The complication is with the second.

    For straight people, these two goals are combined in "marriage", which is both a civil and religious institution. LGBT people, understandably, want the legal equality and social recognition for our relationships which is normally conferred by this civil and religious institution. Many straight people are, just as understandably, concerned about the sad condition of the religious institution of marriage, given high divorce rates, "starter marriages", changing birth rates, economic drain from the divorce industry, wildly hypocritical religious leaders, etc.

    The problem is that some straight people then project their fears about the religious institution on the civil institution of "marriage", which confers a package of legal rights and responsibilities which all committed relationships deserve. As a result, the much more widely agreeable first goal (legal equality) becomes drowned in the fear-fueled reactions around the second. Righteous demands for "marriage" - by that term, in any church, and how dare you question a change to your long-held beliefs - play directly into this fear.

    So, what do we do? We address the fear. A 10% minority cannot achieve social change in the face of irrational fears within a much larger percentage of the population, even with cool blue allies. How do we address the fear?

    • First, by coming out publicly about our lives and loves, especially to our friends and family, because people fear the unknown far more than the known.
    • Second, by leading with our strength: our demand for the legal equality assured by our nation's Constitution, and supported by Americans' fundamental sense of fairness.
    • Third, by showing sincere respect for the religious institution of marriage, in a wide-reaching dialogue which highlights our own legitimate desire for respect.
    • And fourth, by being patient, and recognizing that - in historic terms - the movement for LGBT equality is coming along at a very steady clip. Movements fail by over-reaching, not by making steady, patient, demonstrable progress.

  • (Show?)

    TJ,

    Your idiocy about this is what drives people to not use your "internet handle." It is a way of returning the disrespect that you are showing the rest of us by not getting off of this hobbyhorse.

    Jeff Merkley may have been ambiguous in the WW interview. The Novick campaign including yourself pressed him on it. Since then he has come out clearly, and unambiguously, a number of times, for full marriage equality.

    You claim to want to be past the primary -- if that's true, look at what Jeff is saying and has been saying now consistently and umambiguously for several months. And focus on the contrast that Laura Calvo points out, not only on marriage but on other aspects of protecting LGBT civil rights.

    Whatever one believes about the date when Jeff came to his strong and unambiguous position on marriage, it is not a position of convenience. Again there is a contrast to Smith. Smith moves forward in time trying to make his position more obscure and harder to understand. Jeff has moved from a less clear position to a crystal clear one.

    Kudos to Jeff.

    My personal guess without knowing the man is that the evolution of Merkley's public policy position reflects a kind of evolution of personal thought that many of us who don't face marriage discrimination have gone through -- one that involves at a certain stage worrying about the threat of substantial popular opposition to marriage equality as a wedge issue too much, and about the fundamental fairness and justice issue too little. As a result we enter into bargaining with ourselves (because as the evidence clearly shows, that organized antis are completely uninterested in "compromises") about analytical splits in dimensions of marriage, particularly as relates to civil vs. religious dimensions of it, etc. etc.

    So, you got to clarity about the the full equality position before Jeff Merkley did. Yea TJ/Mark! Good for you. You probably got there before I did. Yea TJ/Mark! You're morally superior and had superior and quicker insight. Hosannah in the highest!

    But Jeff is there now. There is one senate candidate who favors full marriage equality, says so publicly, and repeatedly, and not quietly, and who has a strong record in pushing other non-discrmination legislation and working with LGBT advocacy groups and following through, such that they back him. That would be Jeff. And there is one senate candidate who has none of that. That would be Gordon Smith.

    So what is the point of attacking Jeff Merkley about a former position now?

    I can't really think that you are consciously trying to contribute to Smith's strategy of obscuring the truth and differences (which he applies across the board). It doesn't fit with other things we know about your views. It looks like some ego-driven tic about needing to continue to assert your past rightness in debates with Kevin and others dating from the WW interview period.

    Since I don't know you, I can't be sure. That's just the impression you create, if one assumes you aren't actually so anti-Merkley that you are trying to play "Democrats for Smith".

    But if the latter is not your intent, you need to focus on the fact that it is your effect.

    Jeff has the right position now, he voices it forthrightly and repeatedly now. Smith does not.

    Your refusal to acknowledge that reality has a "Democrats for Smith" water-muddying effect that plays into the Smith strategy.

    If you don't want to have that effect, it's time to get off it. If you continue, it leads to the conclusion that you do want to have that effect, for whatever unfathomable and incoherent reasons, given your other views.

    Time to let it go, TJ.

  • (Show?)

    I'd like to say a few words in my friend TJ's defense here. Chris, I think you are being unreasonably hard on him and I'd like to provide a little context.

    Last December when I ran into Jeff Merkley at a DPO event and asked him "Marriage equality: yes or no?", the first words out of his mouth to me were, "That's not really a yes or no question," followed by a lengthy rumination on civil and religious marriage. I wrote it up at Loaded O and don't need to rehash it at length here. But I was disappointed, because in my mind this really is a binary issue.

    (It was especially disappointing in the context of the primary because when I had asked Steve Novick the same question he replied, "Yes, of course," full stop.)

    Later, at his Willamette Week endorsement interview, Jeff was asked a similar question, and gave a lengthy answer that started with the encouraging word "Yes," but then rapidly devolved into weasel language that called into question the meaning of that first word. (Lots of stream-of-consciousness stuff about how even if you couldn't be married legally you could be married morally, which is all well and good but cuts no ice with the IRS or the Social Security Administration.)

    I have recently been privately assured by those who know Jeff that he truly supports civil marriage equality. For now I take their word for it. But their candidate has a record of obfuscation on the issue that makes a little skepticism reasonable.

    Personally, I am waiting for Jeff to publicly state in the simplest possible language that he supports full civil marriage equality. Until then, I am willing to believe that his heart is in the right place, but I am not convinced of his moral courage in forthrightly stating such a position -- mainly because I haven't seen it. I looked on his website in the "Issues" section and could not even find a header for civil rights / civil liberties. If someone can point me to a clean, forthright public statement on Jeff's part, I'll shut up about this and move on, and although I can't speak for TJ, I'm guessing that he would too.

  • (Show?)

    Am I the only one here who has recently lived through 7 1/2 years of the presidency of a guy who likes everything in simple declarative statements and clearly has no use for nuance... 'cause you know, nuance is just a pretty word for what Stephanie calls "weasel language."

    Where Stephanie sees "weasel language" and the lack of "the simplest possible language," I see a guy who A.) recognizes that few issues can honestly be done justice with brief, simplistic declarations and B.) respects his audience enough to not treat them as if they're too stupid or incurious to cope with the complexities which nearly every issue is fraught with.

  • (Show?)

    Kevin,

    While in general I agree that many issues present elements of subtlety, civil rights issues are the exception. Equality YES? or not-yes? It's really quite simple.

  • (Show?)

    tj, what the hell is the matter with you? it would be one thing to advocate for stronger positions from Merkley. you're just pissing all over him as if the primary hadn't ended. i'm sorry Steve loss -- he was my guy, too -- but Merkley is a great candidate. he busted his ass for Oregonians as minority leader, and he started the post-Minnis healing process in the Legislature in 2007. and more than anything else, he's so far superior to Smith, it's not even a debatable manner.

    and yet you take every opportunity to spit on him as if he'd burned and pillaged your village. i just don't get it. we have plenty of enemies to democracy and progressive politics out there. Jeff Merkley is not one of them.

  • Jack Sullivan (unverified)
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    Personally, I am waiting for Jeff to publicly state in the simplest possible language that he supports full civil marriage equality.

    Did you attend the DPO's GLBT Caucus meeting with Jeff last week? Or were you too busy to go hear him "publicly state in the simplest possible language" what his position is?

  • (Show?)

    Jack, I wasn't aware of the meeting. If there is video or a transcript, I'd love a pointer. Thanks.

  • edison (unverified)
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    Gee, I thought this post was all about Smith's disingenuous position on GLBT equality, but some seem to rise to tj's comments instead. Disagree with him if you wish, but name calling is less than I expect from at least a few of you. Smith is, in fact, totally consistent on GLBT equality and virtually every other issue. He massages his message/image/position to appear "moderate", as the trad-media like to say, while voting in lock-step with the Bushies against these issues. He's a political cretin of the worst type and must be displaced. The Log Cabin folks just don't get it; they've always puzzled me. Nice post, Laura, thanks!

  • (Show?)

    Stephanie,

    Loyalty to friends is admirable and TJ is lucky to have your friendship, and I assume has done things to earn it, which speaks well of him.

    However, I think TJ is being obtuse. I don't buy your defense of him on this, given how often he keeps coming back to it. Actually TJ is being much worse than obtuse, and I am perplexed by it. I don't think I'm being unreasonably hard on him -- I think he's being unreasonably hard on Jeff Merkley. If this were the first time he'd said this I might have argued but not been deliberately harsh. But it's something like the 263rd time, I'm aware of the context, it's not relevant to the current situation which TJ refuses to acknowledge, and he's worn out my patience.

    And I really do think he is disrespecting the rest of us by repetitiously subjecting us to rehashes of points he's made again and again that get less true and less relevant with each passing day.

    If someone with Laura Calvo's credentials writes a powerful piece exposing Gordon Smith's misrepresentations and focusing on the strong contrasts Jeff Merkley offers, should the first response be to grossly and in my view mendaciously minimize the differences in a manner that suggests there is no significant difference between Smith and Merkley? I don't think so.

    Is that worsened by the fact that it's based on statements made months ago that clearly have changed for the better, when conventional expediency would dictate against such change? I think it is.

    If Laura Calvo says that Merkley "does have more than a strong record of supporting true equality and fairness for all LGBT people and their families," and backs that up with an account of commendable public action as a legislative leader, and knowing as I do that similar views have been voiced by major LGBT groups, should I trust her judgment on the point, or TJ's? I'll go with Laura Calvo, thanks.

    If Basic Rights Oregon says "Jeff Merkley strongly supports marriage equality," should I trust their judgment or TJ's? I'll go with BRO, too.

    If a member of the Merkley staff says, in that capacity "Jeff Merkley is for marriage equality for all Americans," should I doubt that she is telling the truth, or think that she wouldn't get sacked for putting it that plainly and directly if it weren't true? I can't see why.

    If it weren't true, and TJ were right that Merkley is somehow prevaricating on the point now, shouldn't I expect some more authoritative voice to come in saying, well, actually Jeff's position is something else? Where is that voice? In its absence, why should I doubt that this staffer's statement is true?

    If five different commenters say that they've heard Jeff say he is for full marriage equality and believe that he is, including people who are very strong on the issue and strongly critical of insufficiency, most or all of whom identify as LGBT, and one of whom identifies a specific recent venue in which Jeff made an unambiguous statement of that support, should I doubt them in favor of TJ's misrepresentations of Merkley as really no different from Smith? Why on earth would I?

    Oregon Bill says Jeff Merkley has been "unbelievably quiet" about his position on equality, which I missed on the first read, so I may have read too much into previous remarks on this subject in the same vein as the comments to which I just referred and overstated Jeff's public vocality on the subject. Perhaps that overstatement is in some small way unfair to TJ. But Oregon Bill nonetheless believes full equality is Jeff's position; all evidence from his past comments shows O.B. would not say that unless he believed it was true.

    TJ is unpersuasive in the face of all the rest of this evidence about Merkley's position on marriage equality, apparently unwilling to consider that evidence, and completely, bizarrely and inexplicably wrong in his broader equation of Merkley with Smith.

    <hr/>

    Here is Jeff saying in a simple, straightforward way that he is for marriage equality, in a live blog context from April, a stance reiterated by two staffers, one of whom is still on staff today, still saying the same thing on this thread.

    eQualityGiving.org which defines itself as "strategic giving for LGBTQ equality," has made Jeff Merkley one of it's "endorsed candidates to fund," meaning that the candidate supports all of the groups Equality Goals. One of those goals is:

    EQUALITY GOAL 4: Marriage Equality Beyond gay marriage, or lesbian marriage, or same sex marriage: it is a matter of civil marriage equality now, like in Canada, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Norway. It also requires to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

    It is hard to see how you could get much clearer than that. It is hard to conceive that a group which set out such a goal in such strong, clear terms would list someone who was ambiguous on the issue as a priority candidate.

    Jeff has been clear. TJ is wrong, behind the times at best, and needs to figure that out.

  • (Show?)

    Chris,

    I think I've identified the problem.

    I assume you are talking about this quote?

    Marriage Equality (3.00 / 18) I've been a strong proponent of marriage equality. Unfortunately we keep hearing that my primary opponent is spreading stories to the contrary. That's unfortunate. I championed Domestic Partnerships and basic rights here in Oregon (the Oregon Constitution under Measure 36 disallows full marriage equality) and I believe that I am the only major U.S. Senate candidate who has been in the trenches fighting on these issues. Because of my championships of these issues, I've recieved [sic] the endorsement of Oregon's GLBTQ advocates: Basic Rights Oregon. by: Jeff Merkley @ Wed Apr 16, 2008 at 14:42:56 PM CDT

    This quote follows the same format as the Willamette Week interview. He starts off strong, saying YES in an unequivocal way, and then he follows it with explication of an equivocal nature, talking about domestic partnerships, and referring to Measure 36 as if we all need to assume that it is an eternal reality, and not a loathsome aberration to be repealed as soon as possible.

    Where does he say in his own words "I support full marriage equality," FULL STOP?

    As I said, I take Sarah at her word that Jeff's heart is in the right place, although she couldn't really explain to me why he didn't say "yes" when I asked him, "Marriage equality: yes or no?" back in December. Perhaps he has changed his mind, or perhaps he was just unprepared for my question. But I am not challenging her veracity. However, I am looking for Jeff to display the courage of his convictions instead of using language that makes it appear that he is trying to have it both ways.

  • (Show?)

    Where does he say in his own words "I support full marriage equality," FULL STOP?

    I don't understand your obsession with it having to be stated in the fewest words possible. You aknowledge that Jeff has given an affirmative answer to the question but that's obviously not enough for you. And why? The self-evident answer is in your first comment in this thread:

    when I had asked Steve Novick the same question he replied, "Yes, of course," full stop.

    At what point will you cease fighting the Primary race and accept that the multitude of LGBT community members and activist organizations who vouch for Jeff Merkley just might be right? If they're okay with the nuances of the issue being aired then where in the hell do you get off insisting that it's not okay?

  • (Show?)

    Kevin,

    I'm not "refighting the primary." I'm providing an example of what a good, unequivocal answer looks like.

    As for the GLBTQ community, as we've established, some members of that community are even prepared to embrace Gordon Smith! So as with most issues, I prefer to make my own assessment.

    I'm voting for Merkley, OK? But (just as I intend to vocally hold Barack Obama's feet to the fire on important issues) I fully intend to do the same with Jeff Merkley.

  • (Show?)
    Stephanie V. wrote: "As for the GLBTQ community, as we've established, some members of that community are even prepared to embrace Gordon Smith! So as with most issues, I prefer to make my own assessment."

    Stephanie, given some Black people support Clarence Thomas, do you also prefer to make your own assessment rather than accept the Urban League and NAACP as representing prevailing views in the Black community on issues directly related to their community?

    Two underlying goals of the gay marriage movement are social recognition and respect. If you support these underlying goals, along with gay marriage, as I believe you do, then isn't respect for the LGBT community's institutional leadership, as representing prevailing views in this community, part of the package?

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
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    But Oregon Bill nonetheless believes full equality is Jeff's position; all evidence from his past comments shows O.B. would not say that unless he believed it was true.

    I called the Merkley campaign and a staffer there said that Jeff backed "full marriage equality." Staffers at BRO claim that Jeff backs "marriage equality," too.

    So...I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Jeff is quiet, but he's "quietly" in favor of treating my family equally under the law, unlike Gordon Smith, who has worked tirelessly to diminish my family's basic civil rights.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Stephanie, you liked Steve's answer better than Jeff--that is a given, that is why you voted for him.

    But at the risk of inflaming primary passions, let me gently suggest that the point of an election is to win more votes than the other person. And there are people who might vote for a Democrat, but not necessarily a Democrat who said "yes, of course, full stop" in answer to your question. Would you have those people not vote in the primary, or vote for Gordon in the general election, so that you can agree with what a candidate says?

    Those of you who want Steve to run for something else in 2010 need to get together and decide which would be better-- Steve learning to speak in terms which might attract support from a wider group of people, even if they don't agree with his stand on everything (diplomatic language is not a sin--sometimes strong content said softly packs a big punch) OR "Steve ran a perfect campaign in 2008, if only we had more money he would have won".

    I'm one of those who think (based on experience with candidates in previous decades) that Jeff won because he appealed to a wider group of people through means which didn't necessarily cost money (someone talking to a friend saying they supported Jeff because...., for instance).

    I know how tough it is to lose a primary--think of how much tougher it was for those of us who lived through a statewide primary recount in 1992!

    But just as there were Hart and Mondale and Jackson people in 1984 and Lonsdale and AuCoin people in 1992, there were Novick and Merkley people in 2008. No one in their right mind believes Novick people will be Merkley true believers, just as no one with any sense thought Hart and Jackson people (who together got close to 2/3 of the Oregon vote) were going to agree with all of Mondale's positions after he was nominated. That didn't mean we didn't vote for/ campaign for him.

    And to all you folks who greet DLC as almost as bad as Republicans, don't forget how they were created. A bunch of people (at first, white southern males, then they realized that didn't attract enough people so they enlarged their scope) looked at the Reagan landslide and thought it was time to have an organization with a competing set of beliefs to what Mondale said. Problem was, they published a platform in about 1991 which had some really good ideas. It also had some clunkers and some things where specific questions needed to be asked. I read it (a friend had it at a state central comm. meeting) and discovered I agreed with 1/3, disagreed with 1/3, had some sharp questions about 1/3.

    DLC's mistake was to turn into a "true believer" organization which didn't want people like me. They turned out to say "agree with the entire platform, no questions asked, or you are not one of us" and gradually they became irrelevant.

    As far as "holding feet to the fire", suppose there are people of other persuasions doing the same thing? Do you believe your side will always win? I had Mondale people "holding my feet to the fire" during the years I was on state central committee. They didn't change my mind, or cause me not to ask tough questions of people on their sides of issues.

    That is what is called the free marketplace of ideas. JFK made a speech about that in 1962, and his quote about "judging truth and falsehood in an open market" is often quoted on posters put up in libraries for Banned Books week.

  • (Show?)

    Stephanie,

    Your excuse would be more believable if it weren't for the slight evolution in your stance on this issue since you wrote that diary. You went from insisting that Jeff flat doesn't support full 100% equality to this new figleaf complaint that he doesn't make his declarations brief enough. And when it's pointed out to you that he has made concise declarations in public, you then fall back on insisting that you have to hear it personally.

    You are obviously free to delude yourself to whatever extent you wish to. But it's pretty obvious that LGBT equality is but a pretext for something entirely different with you. In that respect I don't see any real difference between you and TJ/Mark.

  • (Show?)
    Your excuse would be more believable if it weren't for the slight evolution in your stance on this issue since you wrote that diary. You went from insisting that Jeff flat doesn't support full 100% equality to this new figleaf complaint that he doesn't make his declarations brief enough. And when it's pointed out to you that he has made concise declarations in public, you then fall back on insisting that you have to hear it personally.

    It's not about the brevity per se. It's about the clarity and precision. It's just that brevity of the right kind = an excellent example of clarity and precision.

    I said I took Sarah's word for it. I do. It is clear to me that this represents an evolution in Jeff's thinking since December, which I applaud. In fact, I might even claim a little bit of the credit for it. And I'm not saying I need to hear it personally. I'm saying that because I haven't seen, read, or heard it myself, I am still in a position of taking Sarah's word for it. It would please and reassure me to see Jeff be more upfront about it. What is so hard to understand about that?

    And Leo, there is a BIG difference between a few outliers supporting Clarence Thomas and the Human Rights Campaign supporting Gordon Smith. I lost a lot of respect for HRC when that happened. I think some civil rights organizations over the years have been affected by a variation of Stockholm syndrome -- they feel marginalized and are excessively grateful to any legislator who tosses them a crumb or two. This may account for HRC's aberrant act, I don't know. But I don't let any organization decide for me who I should support or who is "good enough" on a civil rights issue, whether or not it affects me directly.

    Indirectly, I do feel that my Oregon marriage is diminished and diluted by the invidious discrimination that has now been embedded in the Oregon Constitution. I would like it to be otherwise. I would like all Democrats (or at least all self-styled "progressives") to be ardent advocates for repeal of M36 and enactment of full marriage equality. Since they aren't, I am going to be disappointed in some of them. But I do not forfeit my right to continue to advocate for stronger, more progressive positions.

  • (Show?)

    Stephanie,

    On the quote you cite, I don't read this

    I championed Domestic Partnerships and basic rights here in Oregon (the Oregon Constitution under Measure 36 disallows full marriage equality)

    as a modifying gloss on his statement of support for marriage equality in any way.

    I read it primarily as an account of actual practical work he has done for LGBT rights. Note that it also refers to the anti-discrimination legislation. It is in line with his general campaign strategy of making his legislative work and experience a central selling point.

    It also is in line with the reasons that LGBT rights advocates cite for their support for Merkley. Those reasons go well beyond the marriage issue.

    Note that Laura C.'s column is not just about Gordon Smith's position on same-sex marriage but about refuting his more general claim to be a strong supporter of equal civil rights.

    Secondarily, the quote is an explanation of the gap between his ultimate position, and the work he was able to do. Quite a reasonable one, too.

    N.B. that this internet session took place in late April, and that it is on a site that caters to ex-Edwards supporters, i.e. not a specifically LGBT-oriented site.

    Even though it does not have a direct quote from Jeff, the endorsement of eQualityGiving.org seems to me the strongest evidence of the depth of his commitment to marriage equality.

    Clearly they do a vetting process with high-bar criteria. Jeff clearly said to them not just "I support marriage equality, full stop," but that he supports repeal of DOMA and recognition of foreign same-sex marriages in the U.S.

    This again is an important point of contrast to Smith, who sometimes says he supports a "states' rights" approach, except when he doesn't, and supports the FMA.

    As you know, true marriage equality requires both federal recognition and fully equal treatment of all marriages under federal law. It also requires full application of the law that requires each state to recognize the heterosexual marriages performed under the authority of any other state. That law used to apply to all marriages before DOMA deformed it, and needs to be restored to all marriages.

    Full equality also requires recognition of foreign same-sex marriages.

    Smith's supposed states' rights position (except when that isn't his position) remains at best support for localized second-class same-sex marriages, that are not treated as a matter of right for all U.S. citizens.

    Merkley on the other hand plainly supports full marriage equality. He has been clear not only about that phrase, but that he means what LGBT rights advocates mean, with regard to the legal practicalities under the situation created by DOMA.

    That's stronger than the simple declarative phrase, IMO.

    There just is no reasonable basis to question Merkley's position.

  • (Show?)

    Chris, what part of

    I said I took Sarah's word for it. I do. It is clear to me that this represents an evolution in Jeff's thinking since December, which I applaud. In fact, I might even claim a little bit of the credit for it. And I'm not saying I need to hear it personally. I'm saying that because I haven't seen, read, or heard it myself, I am still in a position of taking Sarah's word for it. It would please and reassure me to see Jeff be more upfront about it.

    .... is so hard to understand?

  • (Show?)

    It is clear to me that this represents an evolution in Jeff's thinking since December

    His position on the issue hasn't changed since December. The only evolution since then has been in how you approach denigrating a staunch LGBT legislative ally and advocate.

    In fact, I might even claim a little bit of the credit for it.

    You wanna claim credit for a figment of your own imagination?

    Whatever gets you through another day, Stephanie...

  • Laura Calvo (unverified)
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    First, this piece was written to dispel and expose yet another Smith Myth. One in a long line of myths that shroud the true Smith record.

    Second, the other point I was trying to make to the community (all Democrats and all GLBT folks) is don't be fooled by the myths. Here is yet another example of the Smith Myth at work.

    Third, Jeff Merkley is unequivocally and unambiguous on the issues that GLBT folks are concerned with. We have a candidate for the U.S. Senate that is as strong an advocate and champion for full equality as they come. The contrast I am really trying to bring to light is that, in essence, it's a no-brainer situation for the GLBT community. Furthermore, Jeff Merkley has the gravitas to stand up for us when it's not popular.

    Lastly to Stephanie (I love your passion on this)

    But I am just left puzzled. I understand you had a conversation with Jeff Merkley in December and was not satisfied with the answer. I get that and don't begrudge your personal opinion on this subject.

    However, I've had several personal conversations with Jeff Merkley dating back to prior to the 2005 Minnis debacle with SB 1000.

    Those conversations have happened at party events and in hallways. They've been one-on-one and in public. As a person who has been given the "wink-and-nod" in every conceivable position, rivaling the kama sutra, by some of the very best of the wink'n nodders, I can without any reservation stand on any street corner and say that Jeff Merkley has consistently been spot on with the issues of equality.

    I don't have transcripts, audio, or video recording of the GLBT caucus meeting held July 7th with a crowded room. However, Jeff Merkley said he does support "full marriage equality". There was no mistaking that as he also said he is not afraid of the issue.

    Lastly, the article I submitted was in response to busting another Smith Myth being spread in an obtuse way that Smith has a strong GLBT record.

    It's simply yet another chameleon like myth blatantly pandered when election time rolls around.

    The context of this conversation has been GLBT equality. Something which is a very deeply personal topic which impinges on so many lives in so many ways to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Americans.

    As important as this issue is for my community, a recent nationwide survey of National Stonewall Democrats membership (responses coming from all 50 states and as far away as Australia) revealed that GLBT folks felt that healthcare, the economy and the war were the top three issue they felt most concerned about. Gay rights came in fourth. All the issues were within a hair of eachother, but it does suggest that GLBT Democrats are not single issue voters and do appreciate the complexity and serious nature of the damage done by republicans to our entire country.

    Just add this particular myth to the vending machine like votes and record Smith has shown on the economy, health care and the war.

  • (Show?)

    Thank you, Laura.

    And Kevin: since in December Jeff Merkley's first response to me was "that's not a yes or no question" and today his response is apparently "yes," well, I choose to view that as progress. Have a nice day.

  • Adam L (unverified)
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    I have to agree with you Stephanie.

    Luckily Merkley campaigned on the Yellow Line and I had a chance to also ask him point blank if he was in support of marriage equality (not domestic partnership.) There was no 'Yes' or 'No', but a long drawn out reply that had a sum total of being in favor of marriage equality. The lack of a straight (pun intended) 'yes' stuck in my craw.

    He obviously does support equal marriage. As evident in the various quotes it is the ebb and tide of the strength of his conviction regarding this topic that concerns me. Nonetheless, I will of course support him since he supports my other pet issues.

    And FYI, Leo is wrong. You don't have to be LGBTQ or in a committed relationship to have credibility when talking about marriage equality. Just as I am not in the military, but can talk about Iraq and I am gay, but can argue my stance for pro-choice.

    P.S. I believe there are binary Questions/Answers.

    Racial Equality: Yes or No?

    Equality for Women: Yes or No?

    Ketchup on your hotdog: Yes or No?

    Thanks

  • (Show?)

    Morally and ethically, questions such as marriage equality are relatively binary, I absolutely agree. But politically and legally (both of which a legislator HAS to deal competently with) they simply aren't binary.

    Case in point: M36.

    Dianne Linn's decision to forge ahead with gay marriage in Multnomah County was morally and ethically solid, but legally it clearly was shakey at best. And politically I'd say that M36 demonstrated that Ms. Linn's action was naive and ultimately might even have been (arguably) counterproductive - depending on whether one views M36 as an effective catalyst for full equality being advanced faster than would otherwise have happened.

    Cut off your own nose when, where and why you want. But doing it to spite my face and the face of thousands of Oregonians is... sheer arrogance, IMHO.

  • Mike Schryver (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Actually, Adam, ketchup on your hot dog can be a complex question.

    Hot dog enthusiasts will say that you should never put ketchup on a hot dog, and many will say that it's okay to use diced tomatoes. The reason for this is said to be that the sugar in ketchup diminishes the flavor of the hot dog.

    However, I often put ketchup on my hot dogs at home (on the rare occasions that I eat them), because I use ketchup that doesn't have any sugar added. Those who say that you should never use ketchup are making an erroneous assumption that all ketchup has sugar.

    I think there's a point relating to this thread somewhere in there, but I'll be darned if I can find it.

  • Mike Schryver (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Darn it, now I'm craving a hot dog.

  • (Show?)

    OK Stephanie, fair enough. I apologize for not focusing clearly enough on that passage.

    Let's focus on Laura's column & her amplification, for which I am grateful.

    From the column, I take the point that there is a big difference between Jeff and Gordon that Smith has been trying mightily to obfuscate, and a myth that needs to be busted. Not an unfamiliar idea, but is helpful to see how a committed activist understands and expresses the difference, for situations where I might be called upon to articulate it.

    From Laura's amplification I take a rather different point, not at all new to me, but good to have raised to the top of my consciousness again: that in seeking to be a straight ally for LGBT equality and justice, the alliance is a two-way street. LGBT Democrats aren't just active in their own cause, though they certainly are appropriately active in it. They are progressive Democrats with political skills, acumen and engagement that benefit us all in causes that affect us all. This effect probably is disproportionate to their numbers, as it has been in the past with progressive Jewish people and progressive African-Americans, insofar as the need to be active in their own cause leads to disproportionate engagement and thinking through of connections.

    That matters, because it means their interests are my interests, as more than an abstract values commitment or a general sense that justice for everyone in the long run benefits us all, or even the more concrete aspects involving friends and relatives whom I love. It means I do have a dog in their fights, of my very own self-interests. Keeping that in view, together with the rest of if, is likely to make me a better and more reliable ally.

    Not news to anyone reading, I'm sure, but still, a thought Laura has provoked that seems worthy of remark. Thanks Laura.

    An injury to one is an injury to all.

  • (Show?)

    Laura, and any other LGBT activists who might care to comment, is it worth trying to exercise some sort of gentle persuasion on this campaign with HRC, do you think? Among other groups, I've given them money periodically, and so I get stuff from them.

    Relatedly, where are the most effective places to direct contributions in your view(s), if you feel able to comment, with the assumption that an expression of particularly positive views of some possibilities doesn't imply anything bad about others?

  • (Show?)

    At this point, I think Basic Rights Oregon is at the top of my list. The National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce is another one.

    As someone who looks at, obviously LGBTQ issues yes, but also alot of other things, I also focus alot on particular candidates, especially local and state.

  • (Show?)

    I contribute every year to Freedom to Marry, which is a national organization based in New York, and was founded by my very dear friend Evan Wolfson (we went to college together 30+ years ago). Evan was general counsel of the Lambda Legal Defense Fund and litigated the original Hawaii marriage case all those years ago.

  • Laura Calvo (unverified)
    (Show?)

    is it worth trying to exercise some sort of gentle persuasion on this campaign with HRC, do you think?

    Gentle and reasoned persuasion is always appropriate, no mater what the cause. By all means speak up and let your concerns be heard. Will it produce a constructive effect? I don't have a definitive answer. But I do know it's much better to have stood up and be counted than to remain silent.

    where are the most effective places to direct contributions in your view(s), if you feel able to comment, with the assumption that an expression of particularly positive views of some possibilities doesn't imply anything bad about others?

    Of course there are a great many places to direct contributions. Organizationally and campaign wise.

    In the context of the overarching national importance of this particular U.S. Senate race and this particular post, the choice is clear to me. Personally if I were limited to have only one choice to support, it would be clearly be Jeff Merkley.

    But please keep in mind that we need to elect Democrats from the top of the ticket all the way down the ticket to dog catcher. We have no choice but to commit to an overwhelming victory in November. So the support of Democrats running in east Multnomah County to Jackson County are important races for all of us. Not to mention Kurt Scharder in the 5th Congressional District. Without these Democratic majorities to help undo the damage we've all endured as a nation, we are only kidding ourselves that change is indeed possible.

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
    (Show?)

    is it worth trying to exercise some sort of gentle persuasion on this campaign with HRC, do you think?

    A nice young woman came by our house last night soliciting donations to HRC - the timing was perfect! I gave her a copy of a long e-mail I'd received from HRC (too long to post here) explaining why that organization couldn't formally endorse Merkley, because they consider Gordon Smith a "pro-GLBT Republican."

    To her credit, this young woman was pretty appalled. She agreed that HRC should endorse the real pro-GLBT candidate in the race - and not the guy who fought hard for passage of Measure 36 and the Federal Marriage Amendment. She said she'd definitely ask about what's going on here...

    So maybe if more people question HRC solicitors, or call/e-mail the HRC office in DC, about why exactly they've chosen to shield a man who contributed to an actual erosion of civil rights for lesbian and gay families in our state... they'll change their tune.

    It's worth a quick call or message:

    [email protected] HRC Front Desk: 202/628-4160 Toll-Free: 800/777-4723

    Human Rights Campaign 1640 Rhode Island Avenue NW Washington, DC 20036-3278

  • (Show?)
    Kevin L. wrote: "And FYI, Leo is wrong. You don't have to be LGBTQ or in a committed relationship to have credibility when talking about marriage equality."

    Please don't distort what I said, Kevin. I said that there is a difference between "batting around progressive issues du jour, and having skin in the game". How anyone views any political issue will be different if the issue personally affects them. It is easier to criticize a politician for not taking a sufficiently extreme stand, if you won't personally pay a price should that extreme stand provoke a backlash.

  • (Show?)

    It is easier to criticize a politician for not taking a sufficiently extreme stand, if you won't personally pay a price should that extreme stand provoke a backlash.

    Not only is that the savviest/smartest comment on this thread, its one that everyone should read and take to heart.

  • (Show?)
    eQualityGiving.org which defines itself as "strategic giving for LGBTQ equality," has made Jeff Merkley one of it's "endorsed candidates to fund," meaning that the candidate supports all of the groups Equality Goals. One of those goals is: EQUALITY GOAL 4: Marriage Equality Beyond gay marriage, or lesbian marriage, or same sex marriage: it is a matter of civil marriage equality now, like in Canada, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Norway. It also requires to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It is hard to see how you could get much clearer than that. It is hard to conceive that a group which set out such a goal in such strong, clear terms would list someone who was ambiguous on the issue as a priority candidate. Jeff has been clear. TJ is wrong, behind the times at best, and needs to figure that out.

    There's more to say here, but EQuality didn't endorse him until they relaxed their requirements. Note the "on the path to equality" out they included, which doesn't require support for gay marriage. It's something like 4a, I think.

    I don't know how April, when he could not state how he supports gay marriage when he agrees that marriage is about God, not government, is "behind the times."

  • (Show?)

    when he agrees that marriage is about God, not government

    Vacuous one, your truly inane interpretation would have Merkley as opposed to hetero marriage as to gay marriage. Which is why only those motivated solely be political factors (i.e., defeating Merkley) trotted it out while LGBT groups lined up to endorse Merkley.

    Protest that it's not about the Primary all you want but it's patently obvious what motivates your continued denigration of Jeff Merkley - the Primary race.

  • (Show?)

    "You can't have opposite-sex civil marriage without the "civil" part either, you vapid twit."

    That's exactly right. So you recognize that advocating against civil marriage is to advocate against same sex civil marriage? What a step forward that would be for you. At the moment you appear simply steeped in infantilism, however.

  • (Show?)

    "It is clear to me that this represents an evolution in Jeff's thinking since December, which I applaud."

    Except Jeff denies it's an evolution; he said he had always been for it, during the WW interview. You're willing to give him an out, but he's not willing to take it.

  • (Show?)

    This is the relevant section of criteria that was added/changed earlier this year, to my notice. When Novick was endorsed, it was an endorsement of those who openly professed support for same sex civil marriage. By the time Merkley was endorsed, the requirements had been loosened, so that you could qualify if you were for "interim steps":

    EQUALITY GOAL 4: Marriage Equality Beyond gay marriage, or lesbian marriage, or same sex marriage: it is a matter of civil marriage equality now, like in Canada, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Norway. It also requires to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). INTERIM GOAL 4A: Federal Protections for Couples Instituting stopgap equalities including social security benefits and partner immigration equality. Notice that repealing DOMA does not guarantee equal protections for same sex couples (especially in the case that they live in a state in which there is marriage discrimination). Therefore, specific federal legislation is needed to bring equality to all couples who are legally married. INTERIM GOAL 4B: Civil Unions/Domestic Partnerships Creating temporary solutions in states where marriage equality now is not possible due to constitutional amendments. INTERIM GOAL 4C: Repeal the Federal Marriage Amendment Act (DOMA) DOMA is very brief and has three sections. Secion 1 is the title. Section 2 allows states not to recognize same sex marriages from other jurisdictions (in most states same sex marriages are forbidden in the State Constitution). Section 3 defines marriage, for the Federal Government purposes, as only between one man and one woman.

    The endorsement of gay political groups, as we've seen, is hardly a good barometer for who is best on the issue, particularly if there are issues of payback for the past, or retaliation down the road.

  • (Show?)

    "Merkley on the other hand plainly supports full marriage equality. He has been clear not only about that phrase, but that he means what LGBT rights advocates mean, with regard to the legal practicalities under the situation created by DOMA.

    That's stronger than the simple declarative phrase, IMO.

    There just is no reasonable basis to question Merkley's position. "

    This looks like you're joining the weasel language, Chris. You're letting Merkley off the hook by referring to "legal practicalities," rather than actual, plain support for same sex civil marriage--and you're acknowledging that's what the GLBTQQ groups do, too...tailoring their support around a concern for what they deem politically possible.

  • (Show?)

    "TJ is unpersuasive in the face of all the rest of this evidence about Merkley's position on marriage equality, apparently unwilling to consider that evidence, and completely, bizarrely and inexplicably wrong in his broader equation of Merkley with Smith."

    This is a misreading that I wouldn't think you'd ordinarily engage in. I make no "broader equation;" actually the opposite. I'm very specific about which position Merkley and Smith both hold, and distinguish those things (primarily civil unions) that defy equation.

    Merkley's positon on equality is NOT the same thing as what he SAYS on equality. Apparently I need to point out that I don't equate Merkley and Bush, but it is the same as when Bush says "we don't torture."

    Chris, how is it that you reconcile a desire for same sex civil marriage, with a concurrent desire to discount the need or utility of civil marriage in general? What was the response that convinces you that you can be for civil marriage and against it at the same time?

  • (Show?)

    "your truly inane interpretation would have Merkley as opposed to hetero marriage as to gay marriage."

    That IS his position! It's also yours, and you spent much time agreeing with it and projecting it as Merkley's own position.

    If Merkley had his way there'd be no civil marriage at all--leaving gays out in the cold if they wanted to marry within a religion that wouldn't grant them. But since he knows there's no chance in hell that het couples would agree to relinquish their civil marriage liceneses, the position amounts to a shrug in favor of the discriminatory status quo.

    Also, using Laura Calvo's logic that we can't trust Smith on the issue because he never advocated for civil unions when it was on the agenda in Oregon--I did a reasonably thorough search for any comments by Merkley in opposition to Measure 36 in 2004. Does that mean we can't trust Merkley because he never advocated against 36?

  • Laura Calvo (unverified)
    (Show?)

    TJ, Wow! I agree to disagree.

    There is no wiggle room for you on this. I thought pit bulls were the only ones who never let go once they bite.

    I really do admire your tenacity, stick to you guns, passion you have on this subject. But I'm afraid you're pretty much alone on this. At the very least you aren't on the same page with the overwhelming majority of the LGBT community, including just about every LGBT organization.

    You're even knocking EQuality for lessening their standards? That's quite a personal investment you are revealing here.

    I personally don't think the government should be in the business of telling religions what to recognize as a sacrament or ritual right of passage. I don't think it proper for the government to require last rites to a dead person in order to probate the estate or issue a death certificate.

    I count on the government to treat my dead body equally. Which by the way is probably the only time I'll might be treated equally under the current laws. Sheesh! I probably can't even say that. My America, land of the free and home of the brave, probably won't even allow me that pursuit of happiness under the law.

    Marriage has more than one meaning in the context we are talking about.

    1. Marriage as a religious recognition, sacrament, rite of passage, ceremony, etc.

    2. Marriage as a legal and governmental recognition of a relationship of two consenting adults which grants rights and privileges that otherwise would not be enjoyed as a non married person.

    Two separate and independent things.

    Currently, two people of the same sex can get married by a church under the cannons of a particular church or religion which one subscribes to as their faith.

    But the religious recognition of that union is not recognized by the government. That actually infringes upon my religious freedom guaranteed by the constitution.

    The government can not interfere with my religion. It's legal for some Native American religions to possess and use peyote. Why is the government interfering with my right to marry? The religious sacrament of marriage is between my Goddess and me.

    What about atheists? Yet they can have all the same rights as the god folks do?

    It is by far more than time to come to the shift in thinking that yes, marriage is the business between two people and god if they so choose. But that it's also time to recognize that government doesn't have any say in which religions are more valid than others. Government should get out of the business of religious marriage, leaving that to me and my Goddess. What government should be doing is guaranteeing that I have equal rights under the law regardless of my religious preference or for that matter yours. (hard stop)

    Jeff Merkley, has actually surpassed EQuality's lowered gay marriage standard, by your citing that here. He said it up front and loud, he is in support of the marriage equality issue and is not going to run away from it. He's been as consistent on this as you have been consistent in arguing your point to the contrary.

    Again, I admire your passion on this as it directly concerns me and my family. I truly believe you have my best interest at heart and are being ardent in your views because you feel so passionate about marriage equality as an issue. At some point, for my sake and the sake of many more LGBT folks who are in harm's way and could really benefit from the election of as many Dem's as possible, that you'll help me out on this.

    Bottom line, the Smith Myths are potent illusions which need to be exposed and publicized for what they are. All of us, every single Oregonian, gay, straight, or otherwise can not afford to have another six freaking years of a republican senator who does not represent me or you in the most remote way.

    If you want to discuss this off line sometime I would be happy to hear your thoughts. You've been so spot on in so many other topics of discussion, I would welcome the opportunity to chat.

  • (Show?)
    TJ wrote: "The endorsement of gay political groups, as we've seen, is hardly a good barometer for who is best on the issue, particularly if there are issues of payback for the past, or retaliation down the road."

    If "best" is defined in terms of iconoclasm, then you're right, TJ. But, if defined in terms of effectiveness ... not so much.

    Having skin in this game, I'm looking for effectiveness. And, I'll definitely agree with Laura, it's empowering to see an ally speak so passionately on our behalf. Thank you for that.

  • LT (unverified)
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    "--leaving gays out in the cold if they wanted to marry within a religion that wouldn't grant them"

    Friends of mine were married by a county clerk in a civil ceremony in a beautiful country setting. A relative of mine was married in a church which did not marry any couple which had not completed the church's preparation for marriage class. In both cases, it was a marriage between a man and a woman.

    Some churches are "welcoming congregations" welcoming all comers and have signs to that effect in their windows, mention of it in the church newsletter, etc. Others are very strict on who they want to attend, who they accept as members, who can take communion, etc.

    To me that is what the first line of the First Amendment means, including the "free exercise thereof " clause. If government is going to say that churches of all denominations have to allow gay marriage in their sanctuary, why isn't that violating the First Amendment?

    And no, I don't think a Democrat who is asked about gay marriage and responds "marriage is a sacrament" is being anti-gay.

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    Someday I would like to hear Jeff Merkley state plainly that to him "I support marriage equality" means that he advocates repeal of M36 and DOMA, and the granting of civil marriage licenses to same sex couples.

    I'm not doubting Sarah's word, or Laura's or Leo's. I'm just saying that over the past year or so the phrase "marriage equality" seems to have taken on a number of different meanings. The meaning I just referred to in the paragraph above is what it means to me. I keep thinking about the whole leveling up / leveling down issue when one is trying to achieve equality. I want to achieve equality by leveling UP.

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    Stephanie, if you really want literally to hear it yourself, it seems to me that you need to figure out how put yourself in the way of being somewhere where he does, or where you can ask him again. Clearly he has done so a number of times now. If a record is enough, I refer you to the transcript of his April live-blog session and my argument about how to interpret his statement about other activity after his clear unequivocal statement on marriage equality.

    There are now multiple testimonies that he did just that at the recent Caucus meeting. (BTW I realized that earlier when I failed to acknowledge what you wrote it was because you posted it while I was composing & had read it before I posted, like letters crossing in the mail.)

    TJ, I was referring to your very first comment. All it says is that (in your view) neither Merkley nor Smith are for full marriage equality. It did not make any further comparison or contrast. That is treating their positions as equivalent, especially in light of the totality of Laura's column.

    It would be useful for me, at least, if you would state clearly that even if you were right the Jeff somehow hedges on marriage equality, he is a much stronger supporter of LGBTQ rights than Smith and deserves to be supported over Smith on that basis. Likewise, it would be nice if you were able to acknowledge that Laura's main and persuasive arguments about Smith's self-mythologizing and misrepresentation represent a scale of prevarication several orders of magnitude greater than the equivocation you see (though most others don't) on Merkley's part about marriage equality. Even if you were right, the comparison would be small and the contrast great.

    You have misconstrued my own view rather dramatically.

    I am for full marriage equality. To specify, for equality in civil marriage that is called marriage, treated equally on a national scale and recognizing same-sex marriages from foreign jurisdictions.

    How you come to think my position is anything else I'm not sure. FWIW if you went back to look at BlueOregon discussions back in the primary days, you would find me arguing against the idea of restricting "marriage" to religious unions and putting the legal stuff in fully equal "civil unions."

    On the religious side, civil legal definition can't force sacramental recognition. But that applies to a number of heterosexual marriage and divorce situations already, as I suppose you agree.

    You have misread what I wrote about "legal practicalities," though I can see that my prose left me open to the misreading.

    I was referring specifically to the application of "full faith and credit" for one another's laws to marriage, and to federal recognition.

    Prior to DOMA, just extending legal recognition to same sex marriages would have brought that into play. DOMA means that "marriage" no longer has a single meaning for those purposes nationally.

    Thus as a matter of legal practicality, real "marriage equality" requires repealing DOMA, and federal recognition. The law in Massachusetts and California does not yet achieve that, despite having civil marriage equality within the state ambit. So the "plain and simple phrase" is not enough. There are additional legal practicalities to making equality full.

    My point was that Jeff Merkley, in meeting the eQualityGiving criteria, is being explicit in addressing the national as well as state-level dimensions of the problem. Which is of course particularly important in a federal Senate candidate.

    That is what I meant by "legal practicalities," and all that I meant, not anything that could reasonably be called weasel words.

    Do you believe that it is possible to be for full marriage equality under civil law, and still also to support measures short of that which reduce the harms imposed by discrimination? I have assumed that you do, i.e. that you support the Oregon Domestic Partnership law, without thinking it enough.

    That is what I believe Jeff Merkley's position is, a view supported by a large body of evidence.

    As to how or when his internal thoughts on the matter have evolved, I can't say. It seems clear enough to me that his public articulations have become clearer since his conversation with Stephanie late last year. That's my evaluation of the evidence about his articulations.

    <hr/>

    I read the "subclauses" of the eQualityGiving statement as additive, not subtractive. I.e. not only should someone support full, unequivocal marriage equality as stated at the beginning, but he or she should support other measures.

    Some are required and necessary to get there. Without them "marriage" though given that name still won't be equal (e.g. removing DOMA).

    Others are necessary and desirable in the struggle to get there, both by reducing current substantive harms, and by shifting the conditions of debate, persuasion and legislation. They are in essence forms of non-discrimination legislation like other forms e.g. in hiring.

    They are saying, I believe, that supporting abstract ultimate equality without supporting immediate achievable changes which substantively improve the quality of life for LGBTQ people is not as good as supporting both.

    Jeff Merkley supports both. I hope you do too.

    <hr/>

    The main point remains what Laura said to begin with -- that Gordon Smith grossly exaggerates his support for LGBTQ rights, needs to be exposed for doing so, and is a much worse candidate for those who want to advance those rights than is Jeff Merkley. I hope you agree with that as well.

  • Jack Sullivan (unverified)
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    I'm just saying that over the past year or so the phrase "marriage equality" seems to have taken on a number of different meanings.

    Which is exactly why your "Marriage Equality: Yes or No?" question was bogus from the start.

    If the person-answering doesn't know how the person-asking defines the phrase, then answering the question with a binary answer simply creates confusion rather than clarity.

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    Posted by: Leo Schuman | Jul 10, 2008 9:24:11 PM

    You guys are being far, far too generous with him. He's demonstrated repeatedly that this is about denigrating Merkley first and foremost for him.

    Twice - once on my blog and once here - I brought up the concept of doing away with "marriage" and replacing it with civil unions for anyone and everyone (under the premise that doing so would greatly strengthen the Church/State barrier). In neither instance did I bring up Merkley or any other political candidate... or even any political party for that matter.

    In both instances TorridJerk did his damndest to wreck the resulting (and lively) discussion threads. He exhibiting not the slightest interest in the merits of the issues being discussed, but only seemed to want to attack Merkley.

    The proof is in the pudding, or so the old saying goes.

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    <h2>For some reason that saying has got truncated recently (you're not the only one, Kevin). It's not that the proof is in the pudding, but that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. In this case, the eating's not so good.</h2>
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