In 2004, I was canvassing in inner Northeast Portland for John Kerry. It was a lovely fall day and I was participating in my democratic duty - waking up voters on a Saturday morning and reminding them to vote. After a few hours, my friend and I were done with our turf and were searching for donuts. We came upon the intersection of Fremont and Martin Luther King Avenue and saw what proved to be my own Oprah-style a "Aha" moment: A family, holding either end of a gigantic sign that said "One Man, One Woman," shouting, asking us to honk in support. To remind you, this was the slogan for the Yes on 36 campaign that made it up to Oregon voters whether marriage discrimination based on sexual orientation could be added to the constitution.
Why was it an "Aha" moment? Well, it wasn't because I didn't already support equality, I did. It was just that until that day, I didn't realize that voting is different than vocalizing - loudly - my support. It became a priority for me to be a straight woman who supported the right to marry. Measure 36 did not go the way I wanted and I knew then that I would have to do more than support equal marriage rights, I had to talk about it, volunteer, do whatever I could to make sure it happened.
In the last seven years, Basic Rights Oregon and allied organizations have made incredible strides to share the message that marriage equality is important for an inclusive community. We are coming upon an election year and 2012 could be the year to repair the damage done by Measure 36. We won't know for sure until after this summer, but if this commercial from Basic Rights Oregon are any indication of what's to come, we could be on our way.