Love. Commitment. Marriage.

By Vanessa Usui of Portland, Oregon. Vanessa is an attorney at Duffy Kekel LLP who serves on the Board and the Legal Advisory Group for Basic Rights Oregon. She and her partner of 7 years, Kim, live in North Portland.

It sounds so simple. Like many of you, I grew up hoping to someday fall in love, make a public commitment in front of loved ones, and form a family with the person I love.

But because the person I love – the person I’ve committed to spend my life with – is a woman, marriage is out of reach for us.

In 2004, Oregon voters passed Measure 36, which amended the state constitution to specifically exclude gay and lesbian couples from marriage. Basic Rights Oregon’s legal advisory group (of which I am a member) worked to challenge the measure in court, but the Oregon State Supreme Court refused to take up the case. Since the Oregon legislature does not have the authority to unilaterally amend our constitution, the only way to win the freedom to marry in Oregon is through the ballot.

The exciting news is that Oregon is poised to be the first state in the nation to win the freedom to marry by a vote of the people. The tide of public opinion is turning, but to have a reasonable expectation of winning at the ballot, we need get 100,000 more Oregonians to support the freedom to marry by this August.

This month, Basic Rights Oregon launched a major advertising campaign intended to start a conversation with Oregonians about why marriage matters. My partner and I appeared in a short video created by Basic Rights Oregon, that illustrates why committed couples like us hope to marry for similar reasons as anyone – to make a lifetime promise to share the joys and sorrows that life brings.

Research also shows that when we talk about marriage, minds change. People who’ve had conversations with friends and family about why marriage matters are twice as likely to support the freedom to marry as people who have not.

Won’t you be a part of moving the freedom to marry forward by talking with friends, family and neighbors about why marriage matters? Go to our website for tips on how to start a conversation, share information with your social networks, and sign the “I do” pledge to support the freedom to marry. And while you’re at it, you can get a free bumper sticker!

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    Great post, Vanessa, and such a nice ad. I can't wait to go to your wedding! (Um, assuming I'll get invited, that is :). )

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    I must say this is a well written view that offers expression and is not challenging another's personal view, directly. Choice is what's featured here and even though I've always supported equal rights to marriage its nice to read a posting that isn't filled with the common drama and bitterness. Its in my opinion that we all deserve better and equal treatment in life, the work place and by respectively given the opportunity that our country was founded. FREEDOM I'm not bias to belief, gender or sexual orientation and I feel its important and our responsibility to honor and treat others as we want to be treated. I have the right to Marry the one I love and feel obligated to fight for this cause as it's not only unfair it's a prejudice. Good luck to everyone for fighting for what you believe and in hopes that we can control the hate that our fore fathers have burdened us with. Tom Barbee

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