3-part Exchange via the Corvallis Gazette-Times

T.A. Barnhart

July 21, 2005

Minnis wrong to quash SB 1000

Karen Minnis, Speaker of the Oregon House, is using the power of her office to subvert the Oregon Constitution. She is personally preventing a vote on Senate Bill 1000 (civil unions for same-same couples), even though the majority of Oregonians, including the Republicans in the House, support civil unions.

Her dishonesty in her expressed reasons would be laughable, if it were not so serious. She is saying that Measure 36, the ban on marriage equality, also was a vote against civil unions.

Here's what Tim Nashif, head of the Oregon Family Council Director and an organizer of the Measure 36 campaign, told the Bend Bulletin on Aug. 20, 2004: "Same-sex couples should seek marriage-like rights through another avenue, such as civil unions." Throughout the campaign last year, M36 supporters had the same message: Ban gay marriage because they can always seek civil unions (see www.trackthelies.com for a full listing of these citations).

Oregonians believe in fairness. We believe in the right to vote. We refuse to let our political and social choices be made for us by any person or group that thinks it's not only more powerful but morally superior.

Karen Minnis does not seem to understand this. By blocking a fair vote on SB 1000, she is pandering to a small minority of religious bigots in the mistaken belief they will get her elected governor next year.

Phone Speaker Minnis' office and tell her to let our elected representatives vote on SB 1000. She is not the Lord High Chancellor; she's just one vote, like the rest of us.

Todd Barnhart

July 25, 2005

Minnis right to quash 'fad' bill

Todd Barnhart's July 22 letter attacked Karen Minnis, Oregon's House Speaker, for "using the power of her office to subvert the Oregon Constitution" and "personally preventing a vote on Senate Bill 1000 … even though the majority of Oregonians…support civil unions."

This is an inaccurate, malicious and slanderous statement against an elected official. Ms. Minnis is standing for what she feels is right and I, along with most Oregonians, support her constitutional efforts. We elect representatives to use their best judgment as they make laws and do not ask for mob rule (decision based on public opinion polls.)

Whether or not you agree with every decision made in Salem or Washington is not the issue. Lots of laws are presented, and sometimes passed, that are bad laws. It is not dishonest to say something is wrong and then stand by that conviction. It is only an offense to legislate rules based on popular agendas and fads. "Civil unions" is a relatively new buzzphrase for a lifestyle in vogue. It is not a "right." Rights are base on the Constitution and apply to everyone, not a select minority.

Oregonians believe in the rule of law and that a republican form of government are proper. To accuse all opponents of SB 1000 of being "a small minority of religious bigots" shows fundamental poor thinking on Barnhart's part and extreme prejudice against anyone who disagrees with him.

Patrick Wills

July 26, 2005

Minnis, Morse and SB 1000

Sen. Frank Morse might be surprised to learn he represents a mob; Morse, a devout Christian and co-sponsor of Senate Bill 1000, would probably also object to the idea that his work on civil unions is in response to public opinion polls. But I am now used to people like Patrick Willis resorting to name-calling and broad, baseless attacks on those with whom they disagree when it becomes clear they have lost the democratic battle.

The people of Oregon support civil unions. When they voted for SB 1000, they supported civil unions. This is not a fad; it's an idea whose time has come. For nearly 20 years, gays and lesbians have been fighting for their basic rights in Oregon and, for the most part, the people of Oregon have responded in the affirmative. Following the passage of Measure 36, the next step was civil unions — not to support a "vogue" lifestyle but to allow lives to be lived under full protection of the law.

I did not slander House Speaker Karen Minnis, by the way. I wrote my honest opinion. I am allowed to do this under the law. Had I purposefully written untruths about her, I would have libeled, not slandered, her. Not only do I know the difference between these two words, I know a politician pandering to her political base when I see it.

Todd Barnhart

  • xianjiro (unverified)

    Last year when certain Multnomah County Commissioners legalized Gay Marriage without any public debate, retaliation was swift - opponents of equality for sexual minorities wrapped themselves in the banner of "Democracy" and filled recall petitions.

    House Speaker Karen Minnis, R-Wood Village even went so far as to say, "It makes a citizenry angry when government appears to be arrogant. When objections are raised, they say, 'Too bad, we're smarter than you.' " ("Marriage fire fuels debate on public trust," by Harry Esteve, <span style="font-style:italic;">The Oregonian</span>, March 22, 2004 as published on OregonLive.com).

    But now that Minnis, in league with her cronies from the religious right, has said "I'm smarter than you are. I'm not going to let the Oregon House even discuss the idea of Civil Unions," she seems to get off with barely a snicker. And yet that isn't even enough for Minnis, she feels the need to do the political equivalent of throwing sand in the eyes of an opponent by "gutting" Senate Bill 1000 of its substance (creating civil unions and banning discrimination in the housing and the workplace based on sexual orientation) and "stuffing" it meaningless "reciprocal benefits" language.

    As reported by MedfordNews.com, "House Speaker Karen Minnis (R-Wood Village) referred SB 1000 to the House Committee on State and Federal Affairs on Thursday. Committee Chair Wayne Krieger (R-Gold Beach) then convened an immediate work session on the bill and banned the public, advocates, and legislators from testifying on the bill."

    Where is the public debate now?

    It is completely galling that Minnis and minion Krieger are not required to hold public debate by their opponents, let alone the same folk who cried for similiar debate in 2004. Simply put, progressives and others on the left are gutless and unwilling to play hardball. While this is not a call for mud-slinging, if the right is willing to use <span style="font-style:italic;">recall terrorism</span> to cow every moderate legislator maybe it's time that the left do the same to those who make a stand against public debate, the hallmark of a viable democracy.

    March all you want (certainly there is nothing wrong with it) but until we hold the legislator's feet to the fire, nothing is going to be accomplished.

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