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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Win for the Good Guys

While Oregon is a great state to live in, I've always been ashamed that just enough of its people were fooled into voting a few years ago for "Protecting the Sanctity of Marriage" which legally defines marriage as being only between a man and a woman. It's a real black eye to this state that discrimination is now written into its Constitution. This is a state that has consistently defeated other anti-gay measures over the years. This is a "Liberal Bastion" which voted to legalize medical marijuana and doctor-assisted suicide (twice). We don't have a sales tax because it is too regressive. Hell, we won't even let you pump your own gas because of the fire hazard. But yet the bigots and haters were able to convince just enough of my fellow Oregonians that somehow the institution of marriage would crumble if we allowed all those gay couples who currently live together (or plan to) to legalize their union like the rest of us.

But I think the tide is slowly turning. Earlier this year, the Oregon legislature was able to pass two bills which would undo at least some of the damage. The first created domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. Granted, it's not marriage, but since marriage is defined in our Constitution as being only between a man and a woman, I guess it is the best that can be done for now. The second bill makes it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Now I haven't read the text of this second bill, but it strikes me as odd that we can have a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation at the same time that we actually have discrimination based on sexual orientation written into our Constitution (maybe this discrepancy will ultimately force a showdown on the constitutionality of the anti-gay marriage language?)

Now it should really not come as a surprise that some people have a problem with the two bills discussed above. Can you guess who? You guessed it, the same bigots and haters behind the marriage discrimination ballot measure. So sure enough, they immediately launched a campaign to put a ballot measure on the November ballot to force a vote on the domestic partnership bill, with the hope that they will again be able to fool enough people into thinking that allowing domestic partnerships will destroy their marriages.

But guess what, this time they were unable to collect enough signatures before the deadline to get their measure on the ballot.

Oh, I'm sure they will try again. There is no limit to the amount of bigotry and hate some people have. But I have always thought that a lot of the people who voted for the anti-gay marriage measure allowed themselves to be fooled by the smaller minority of true bigots and haters. I can distinctly remember the anti-gay marriage people saying that they didn't have a problem with domestic partnerships, only actual marriage. Yet, as soon as the Oregon legislature passes a domestic partnership bill they are trying to defeat it. And I think that over the few years since the anti-gay marriage measure passed, more people have come to realize that gay marriage won't destroy their own marriages and actually benefits society instead of harming it. Also, I think the rhetoric about protecting children has pretty much worn itself out. It's becoming blatantly obvious that religious-right Republicans don't really care about protecting children (take Bush's recent veto of SCHIP as an example). Keeping gays from marrying was never about protecting children or the institution of marriage. It has always been about punishing gay people for being gay.

Whether by ballot measure or judicial decree, I really do think that discrimination against gays will be removed from our Constitution within the next ten years and I will again be able to say that I am proud to be an Oregonian and live in a state that treats everyone fairly.


Blogger monado said...

I never did understand that "Gay marriage will destroy marriage" rant. It's as if your sucking your thumb would make my teeth croocked. Why would having my adult neighbours voluntarily marry do anything but strengthen marriage?

Fri Mar 21, 11:28:00 AM 2008  

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