Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Humanity and Dignity Put to a Vote in Oregon Again

I'm a tough girl. I've given birth three times without painkillers, fended off sexual harassment at every job I've had, and put myself through college working retail. But damn it if those anti-gay bigots haven't made me cry again.

The last time was when our marriage annulment became physically manifested by a check in the mail, the state supreme court throwing our license fee back in our faces, after anti-same sex marriage fanatics had managed to change the constitution right under our feet.

This time was when I opened my e-mail five minutes ago and saw that the opponents of domestic partnerships and anti-discrimination laws in Oregon claim to have gathered enough signatures to suspend the legislation--due to become law as of Jan. 1--until a majority vote decides our fate in November, 2008.

There is still a chance that election fraud can be proved, that there are too many duplicate signatures to reach the number needed, that Mother Nature or God or Wonder Woman will fly down and tell us all to quit demeaning each other and focus on the important things: peace, education, food, shelter and health care for all, saving the earth before it heaves a sigh and gives up the ghost.

But I expected this outcome the moment that domestic partnerships were announced passed in Oregon. Our opponents have steadfastly refused to see that we are human beings who live, love, work, raise children and die--just like anyone else--and deserve the right to work and live free of discrimination and to love the person we love, without being penalized for a single chromosome of difference.

Like many gay men and lesbians in Oregon, I'm tired of fighting this fight. Tired in the soul. The last election knocked the stuffing out of my wife and me, somehow stunned that anyone would consider us so unworthy and threatening that our union needed to be outlawed constitutionally. That is one heck of a character assassination.

Now is when our straight allies ought to step in. There is no reason that every person with a gay loved one, brother, sister, son, neighbor, co-worker or old boyfriend shouldn't consider our fight their fight, our humanity their humanity. Anyone who cares for someone gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, and wants him or her to live free of discrimination and second class citizenship should be making a big noise, carrying signs, donating money, educating voters one by one, so that this madness can end, and the question of whether we are a lesser brand of human can finally be put to rest.

After all, we have other things to do with our time and energy. We have jobs to do, volunteer positions, Little League to coach, whales to save, articles to write, and children to raise--but we will not let this insult pass without a fight. The time of the closet, the "oh thank you for tolerating me" days, the "everyone knows she's a lesbian but we never mention it" days, the days of the token gay in the book club, the staff, the group of college friends, is over.

Not only are we not lesser humans, we're every bit as good or better, if you measure morality by the care you give, the work you do, the rules by which you truly live--rather than just say you do--let's get out the tape measure. Bring in the microscope, bring in the microphone, bring it on. I'll try to keep my sense of humor.

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