Freedom to Marry Week

Karol Collymore

This week is Freedom to Marry week promoted by the group Freedom to Marry, the gay and non-gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide. Initially, I was tempted to make a correlation between gay marriage and interracial marriage. It’s a convenient argument for me as the man I love is actually “The Man.” However, no matter how uncomfortable people are with my interracial relationship, they dislike same sex couples “pushing their gayness” even more. So instead, I bring you a tale of an interracial, gay relationship – with kids.

Last summer I met Kevin and Alex. They are a committed couple living a dream. They have great careers, an enviable house, and beautiful children. They are handsome themselves with personality to boot. When I walked into their foyer, I felt warmth and family. We sat around the table and Kevin told me the story of how they got together, their personal and professional success, the reaction from neighbors (varying from racist to generous) and being the “cool parents” on the block. All the while, Alex was taking phone calls from their children – who were getting off school at the time – and talking about what was going to happen for dinner.

Kevin and Alex got married in 2004. I can imagine how happy they must have been and the sheer joy of finally having acknowledgment of their love. I can also imagine the heartbreak when their check came back in the mail from their invalid marriage license when “One Man One Woman” succeeded.

Not only have Oregonians taken Kevin and Alex’s rights away, they’ve taken away the rights of their children to be in a legally accepted family. Kevin and Alex should be allowed to be married. They pay taxes contribute to the economy, participate with charitable causes. Their children are smart, safe, and wholly loved. Those clearly aren’t criteria for a marriage license, as evidenced by any tabloid or doing a little neighbor research.

I’m struggling with my adulthood, my career, and I’ve got a family clucking at me about not being a spring chicken – but I can marry a White man, no one will stop me. In Oregon 60 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do so. Ours was one of the first states to do away with miscegenation laws, 16 years before they were banned federally. Oregon state legislators need to bravely step up to the plate and take a stand again.

Civil union legislation has come around again and should be supported by those who honor privacy rights, personal rights, and humanity. Gay marriage will still take some work and I hope that this page in history will not be overly embarrassing in the next few decades. In the meantime, we need to encourage our legislators to take those steps forward. No doubt Kevin and Alex have made those calls to their representatives, please call yours.

  • Eric A. Stillwell (unverified)

    Keep up the good fight, Karol! I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    And since there are some progressive churches in this country that do perform & sanction same sex marriages, I'm still waiting for the day when a First Amendment case is brought to the Supreme Court on the basis of religion and the free exercise thereof. Why should the State grant rights and benefits to marriages performed by one church, but not another?

    While I have long argued that secular marriage laws have nothing to do with reglious marriages -- people married at City Hall are as legitimately married as people who get hitched in a church -- I believe the Constitution's "prohibiting the free exercise of religion" clause in the First Amendment provides the best opening for a legal challenge to the various definition of marriage amendments and laws that have sprung up all across the nation. Those laws are not only an assault against gays and lesbians, they are an assault against the free exercise of religon as well. We just need a Church to take up the cause.

    And you make an excellent point, Karol. Can you imagine what people would say today if an effort were undertaken to ban marriage between different racial or ethnic groups?

    Times change. Often too slowly.

  • lin qiao (unverified)

    Why should the State grant rights and benefits to marriages performed by one church, but not another?...I believe the Constitution's "prohibiting the free exercise of religion" clause in the First Amendment provides the best opening for a legal challenge to the various definition of marriage amendments and laws that have sprung up all across the nation.

    I've got to completely disagree. The State most definitely does not "grant rights or benefits" to anyone based upon a either a religious wedding service. Marriage is a civil contract, and the State regulates who may engage in that contract (one man plus one woman per present law). If you doubt this, let a homosexual couple get "married" before a cleric and then try to claim themselves as legally married, without having gone to their county offices (say) to fill out a form for a marriage license.

    The 1st Amendment's "free exercise of religion" clause similar does not give anyone a free pass to engage in criminal activity as defined by state or federal statute, say, by claiming such activity as "free exercise of religion". If that argument worked, Mormon polygamists would be doing their thing in broad daylight, not surreptitiously, as just one example.

  • lin qiao (unverified)

    Sorry, that was supposed to read "either a civil or religious wedding service."

  • Jimbo (unverified)

    I was sad to see Measure 37 pass as well since I had plans to marry my dog.

  • (Show?)

    "I was sad to see Measure 37 pass as well since I had plans to marry my dog."

    And zoning rights blocked you? Are you going to ask for the money, or seek to have your dog partitioned and sold for development?

  • lin qiao (unverified)

    Before Jimbo gets his dog partitioned, he and his Rottweiler should go to Rick Santorum for counseling.

  • Jimbo (unverified)

    Oops. I should have said M37, huh? Can't get anything past you guys.

    Hope I can get that civil union with my dog. She's so warm and cuddly.

  • Jimbo (unverified)

    Oops, that was M39, huh? Can't get anything past you sharp cookies.

    Hopefully we'll at least get to have our civil union. Thanks for all your hard work.

  • Bryan Boyd (unverified)

    Measure 36 "Jimbo". The one that enshrined discrimination into the Oregon Constitution. Not a proud moment for our state. A governmentally imposed, systematic prejudice against a class of people based on their sexual orientation.

    Only in America, only in a country that overtly and notoriously celebrates its prejudice against a class of people by proposing constitutional amendments. God bless us all--home of the brave. Shame on Oregon. Shame on this country.

    Now it is time for the Oregon Legislature to do what they can to patch this injustice... Civil unions. It is not a complex issue. We're talking about basic fairness and basic rights for all Oregonians. It's time Oregon.

  • Eric A. Stillwell (unverified)

    These polygamy, bestiality & pedophilia arguments are so entirely irrelevant, because laws banning those practices are applied equally to every citizen. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, gay or straight, black or white.

    But laws that ban same sex marriage discriminate against a specific group of citizens: consenting adults who happen to be homosexual. The benefits of marriage are then denied under civil law -- usually for religious reasons -- which brings us back to the tyranny of government if it adopts one religious viewpoint over another (i.e., "respecting the establishment of religion,") which is banned by the First Amendment.

    If the government wishes to define marriage as a union between “two people” (and two people only), that’s fair – because it applies equally to everyone. Equality under the law is the issue here. Your dog has no such rights under the Constitution.

  • (Show?)

    I get so tired of the "dog argument" that gets thrown around every time same sex marriage is mentioned. Frankly, it is insulting to those who are homosexual or bisexual, as it equates them to something less than human.

    The fact is we're talking about consenting adult HUMANS here, not dogs, not sheep, and not any other kind of animal.

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    Pedophilia and bestiality don't apply for the simple reason that you don't have two consenting partners.

    Polygamy doesn't apply because you have more than two consenting partners.

    Marriage is really simple: Two unrelated adults who consent to be married.

  • Leo (unverified)

    The county may fill out the form, but it does not become legal until signed--and that is done by ministers of churches--

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    Not just ministers of churches, but anyone who is legally allowed to marry people. There are plenty of ways to get married without going through the minister of a church, including the justice of the peace.

  • lin qiao (unverified)

    dog argument

    Sigh. Once again, reactions of the literal-minded tell us that irony is dead.

  • Daniel (unverified)

    It is important to distinguish here between a simple ballot measure and a constitutional amendment. Constitutional Amendment 36 did just what Bryan said - enshrined discrimintation.

    Question: How does a legal civil marriage between two adults of the same sex have ANY affect on a civil marriage between two opposite sex adults?

    Re: Jimbo's dog-arguemnt...stupidity should be painful

    Karol, thank you, once again, for your love and support!

  • johnny (unverified)

    Priest: Do you take this dog to be your lawfully wedded, um, wife? Man: I do. Priest: Do you, dog, take this man to be your husband? Dog: Bark! Priest: Was that a yes or no?

    consent consent consent consent consent consent

    It's the same reason minors cannot marry, as they cannot enter into a legally binding contract. It has nothing to do with morals or gods. It is unlawful.

    Homosexual marriage should be legal, that it isn't is a travesty of constitutional proportions. Either everyone, or no-one. It's not like us heterosexuals are getting marriage right anymore; maybe they could fix it for us?

  • BarkMunster (unverified)

    But what if the dog was gay?

    Then they should be able to marry?

    The consent arguement is a dog knows that one bark is yes, and two barks is no. (and she will keep barking until I give her the dog treat)

    BTW, I am not married to my dog. She is just property to me. I guess I am kinda old fashion in that regard.

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    It doesn't matter if your dog is gay, or whether or not they know one bark is yes and two is no.

    A dog is not a human being. End of story.

  • (Show?)

    Under the law, only persons of legal age and capacity can enter into contracts, because other kinds of persons (children, those suffering from certain forms of mental illness or impairment) are not deemed capable of giving consent to the requirements of a contract (and if they try to, in most instances the contract cannot be enforced against them).

    Marriage is a civil contract. It also is or can be many other things (e.g. a religious sacrament), but with those other things the state does not concern itself. The civil contract of marriage as it is practiced in the United States is a promise in which two adults exchange vows of monogamy, fidelity, and permanence to one another. There is no rational reason for the state to care whether the parties to a marriage contract are of the same or different sexes, just as there is no rational reason for the state to care whether they are of the same or different races.

    I have never been so proud to live anywhere as I was to live in Multnomah County during that period when same sex couples were being issued marriage licenses. It was a glorious example of what justice and equality look like. I was heartbroken when it ended.

  • Laura Calvo (unverified)

    The dog argument is patently offensive regardless of it's intended irony or humor in any context. Any mention of polygamy, bestiality or pedophillia is not only patently offensive, but ignorant as well.

    We are talking about real people and families. The simple fact that this type of humor is on this blog is just another reason why our legislature must ensure the equality of all people. If we as a peole do not have a public policy protecting the equal rights of all people, then really who are we?

    We have an NBA basketball player openly stating he hates gay people. Sure he apologized after it was said. But he said it. The implications of his statement only serve to justify the urgent need for legislation to protect the equal rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender americans.

    We live in the United States of America. We like to believe we are the most advanced society in the world. We actually go to war, spending billions upon billions of dollars, to bring our way of democracy to other countries. It's just sickening to know that legal discrimination, predjudice and bigotry exits in america.

    One only needs to look around the globe at just how backward and retarded we are when it comes to basic human rights of our own. Look at the list of countries who recognize same sex marriages compared to those countries which ban same sex marriages. Finland, France, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Denmark, Sweeden, Germany, Untied Kingdom, Switzerland, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico, Croatia, Canada and Spain have civil unions/domestic partnership/marriage for same sex couples.

    Countries like Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gambia, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Bangladesh, Palestinian authority,Chechnya, Iran, Sri Lanka, Syria, and a bunch of countries that didn't exist on the map when I was in elementary school, not only prohibit same sex civil unions but make it illegal to be homosexual. Oh by the way, 21 states in the US still have sodomy laws on the books.

    The arguments and rationale against same sex marrraige are absolutley ludicrous.

  • MPA (unverified)

    I’m sorry I’m a little late on this but I’m just seeing it. You realize Kenny had a choice in the matter- he could have asked his clients to be respectful of the owners rules for the two hrs they were there. Freedom is a two way street- it’s not all about you. People can listen to their music and speak loudly in their own homes. I’m a black woman and I would not want to go into an establishment that was playing music loudly-with loud people. I don’t like getting headaches and would go somewhere else. Why do you think so many states are banning smoking in buildings-it bothers so many other people-they don’t like it it's bad for business and health. If black people were big smokers you would think the new law was targeting them- it’s not. Some how we think being black should give us the license to act however we want and have it accepted in a public place- No! Ever thought that people just want some peace and quite when they get their hair done- I know I do.

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