Waiting for Marriage Equity

Karol Collymore

I imagine it is hard seeing other states and our neighboring state of Washington pass marriage equity laws while our liberal bastion of Portland still treats our LGBTQ community as separate. Actually, I know it’s hard.

I watch dear friends committed and in love, wanting to be married. They can’t get married in Oregon. I watch them in their homes, going on vacations and raising their children, and wearing rings. But THAT ring – the “Every kiss begins with K” that taunt us in commercials and that blubbery guy on the radio who apparently has the best diamonds in Oregon – that ring can’t happen where we live. It breaks my heart. I could marry my cousin if I wanted without a care (or a drivers license) but same sex couples have to show ID and get a notary-approved document just to have a domestic partnership at their local county offices.

Something is clearly wrong with this picture.

I was frustrated when Basic Rights Oregon decided against a ballot measure in 2012 to repeal the constitutional amendment that allowed bigotry a permanent place in our state. I thought, “I’m ready to fight!” My feathers and feathers of many of you were ruffled. I can’t contemplate a state like Iowa passing marriage equity while Oregon waits in the wings. I mean…I can put a bird on it but not a ring on it? But passion alone does not win elections. And passion alone won’t repeal a constitutional amendment and add another amendment at the same time, in the same year, without drama. That is the hard reality of our ballot measure process.

I support Basic Rights Oregon – our only statewide political organization focused solely on LGBTQ equity – in their decision to wait to launch the marriage equity battle. As a loyal supporter said to them: “Waiting is hard. Failing is harder." Failing is hard and it has repercussions farther than our safe city of Portland. The lesson of Measure 36 was that we have to make sure there is money and support to protect every person that supports equity and any attempt to repeal political action can be defended. We are heeding that lesson.

So here is what you can do now: Talk to the people in your lives about what marriage equity means to you. If you are straight, realize the power that you have to change the opinion of people in your life. Support organizations dedicated to political change so that when a marriage equity campaign is ready to launch, it will be fully funded and able to take on any challenge from those who wish to continue to use our personal lives as weapons against acceptance and progress.

It hurts, but if we lay the right groundwork we can make the change permanent. Let’s celebrate our neighbors to the north and let’s make sure they can celebrate us in 2014.

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    Something else we can do now is to advocate for secular, evidence/science based ways of knowing. The war on non-heterosexuals is faith-based war. It was religious Democrats that joined with religious Republicans to pass Measure 36.

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      Since majorities of Roman Catholics, mainline white Protestants, and Jews support gay marriage it would be a serious political mistake to declare war on religion and alienate supporters.


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        It's pretty simple Bill...the more people rely on religious fantasies to understand the world, the more we increase the odds for faith-based lunacy like the war on non-heterosexuals, the war on women, the war on science, etc.

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          Joshua, you may not like religion, and you may think it's nonsense, but most Americans don't. For many of them it's the central value in their lives. Convincing them that gay people hate religion is not going to bring Americans around to accepting and supporting gay marriage. The inverse is quite likely. Most of the gay people I know are religious, many of them church going. Are they going to get behind your program? I don't think so.

          It doesn't help the cause of gay marriage one bit to conflate the left wing secularist cause to destroy the influence of religion in American life with the cause of gay marriage. It hurts it.

          In a larger sense it is my view that significant cultural and policy change doesn't happen through the destruction of existing institutions but by a process of those same institutions and traditions adapting to, and accepting or absorbing change.

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            It's hard enough battle to convince folks to support marriage equity. I don't think it makes sense to pile on the task of convincing them to abandon their faiths. (Even if you think that's a good idea.)

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              Tell me Kari, when is the appropriate time to try to convince people that belief in fantasies is a bad idea? We can chew gum and walk at the same time.

              Here's a link to a story about how an Islamic Canadian family "honor" killed their four teenage daughters for amongst other things dressing inappropriately.

              Maybe the dead daughters would prefer that people like you don't snuff out honest rational discourse about religion. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/29/canada-honor-killing-shafia-family-guilty_n_1240268.html

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              The approach taken in Washington State seems to be leading to the legislative process ending with the Governor signing a law that gives equal rights. Perhaps it is just my perspective, which I have been told has been lost, but Dan Savage explained clearly how it is happening in Washington and how it is not happening at the Federal level. Check out his interview on Countdown and then use your influence as a political insider to advocate for a similar approach in Oregon and from President Obama.

              And really if you had a grasp of the message of Jesus Christ you would not back down; you would stand your ground. His coming answered the questions and if you believe in Jesus you know that loving your neighbor as yourself is the answer. God is Love. And Love is the answer. Right, Kari?

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            Oh where to begin. You've twisted a lot of my words. It's not my opinion that "religion is nonsense." However, it's a fact that religions like Christianity, Islam, etc, are based on fantasies. You know....the universe was created by "God" and His word is in one handy book...heaven, hell, paradise, you know the BS story.

            "Convincing them that gay people hate religion is not going to bring Americans around to accepting and supporting gay marriage."

            WTF? Who says we should convince anyone that gay people hate religion?

            What will increase acceptance of non-heterosexuals is increasing secular ways of knowing and decreasing fantasy-based ways of knowing. Again, this is not my opinion, it is a fact. Just look around the world. Where religion reigns, non-heterosexuals suffer.

            Once again I put forward a very simple idea: the more we use science/evidence/facts instead of fantasy/sacred texts/popular superstition to understand the world/to figure out right from wrong, the better off we will be.

            Bill, are fantasy-based ideologies the only ideologies that you insist are beyond the scope of rational discourse? If so, please provide some explanation as to why certain ideas deserve protection from scrutiny. Regardless of how many Americans are religious, it doesn't change the fact that we are a democracy, not a theocracy, a nation which all ideas ought to open to scrutiny.

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    Thank you, Karol. Well said.

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    Although as a Portlander who often pokes fun at my friends and family over the border in "Vantucky", it's annoying that gay marriage will probably be a reality over there first.

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      Well come next year (or sooner) you will find a slight majority of those people in Clark County voting to repeal the marriage bill. That's why I hope to God that the sane Puget Sound region will uphold it and it will become something that Oregon can adopt in time.

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    Thank you Karol.I totally agree. This is analogous to what I think about the proposed soda tax ballot measure for Multnomah county. It is just not the time; we are not ready to mount a vigorous campaign, and the inevitable trouncing at the polls in November will set the movement for a healthier environment back for years.

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    If the WA Legislature follows through and adopts the marriage equality bill and if WA citizens correctly vote down the anticipated challenge from conservatives, I hope that many same sex couples from Oregon will consider moving to our side of the river. We have our share of knuckle dragging morons (check out the comments on the Vancouver Columbian web site for some unfortunate examples), but at least in the central part of Vancouver we are pretty progressive and welcoming to all. And if you live here and can find a job over here, you save 12% on Oregon income tax! Not a bad deal when you consider that those of us in West Vancouver can drive to the Rose Quarter or NW 23rd or the Pearl in less time than most Oregonians can get there from Beaverton or Tigard or wherever.

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