Monday, October 01, 2007

The Raging Waters Recede

The temporary black cloud of rage that settled over me in advance of another assault on glbt Oregonians has drifted to the side again, hovering just within sight, ready to swing back into place at a moment's notice, but allowing, at least for a moment, clear vision.

The signature verification process is still in full swing, with Basic Rights Oregon standing by to make sure all is as it seems, but opposing forces aren't just standing there twiddling their thumbs. As mad as it seems, even when the senate and the representatives and the governor all vote in and sign legislation giving same-sex couples the equivalent rights to opposite sex married couples (under the homogenous moniker "domestic partner"), and even if enough signatures against that legislation aren't gathered to stall the legislation and put an initiative on the November ballot against it, a ballot measure can still be put forward by foes of glbt Oregonians as a people's initiative, to reverse the legislation a year into equality. Say what you will, Oregon is a democracy, not a republic.

What this means to the average newspaper reader is that there will be more articles about compassionate conservatives, Ukrainian churches, same-sex couples loving visitation rights at the worst moments, and the ACLU. What it means to anti-gay rights forces is that there will be free advertisement for the fight against "homosexual marriage", which was compared to 9-11 as a threat to state security and the safety of the American Way. What it means to glbtq Oregonians is that we will once again become water cooler fodder, walking tokens and representatives of a targeted minority, open to intellectual assault at a moment's notice while buying Midol at the QFC when Suzie from carpool wants to talk about the difference between domestic partnership and marriage when all you want to do is go home and eat chocolate.

Not that I've minded taking part in debate; I have jumped into the marriage arguement with both feet firmly planted and taken my knocks for it. But sometimes it makes me want to say Oh For Heaven's Sake Grow Up People, when anyone questions the fitness of our peeps for marriage, or argues that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet or that same-sex marriage will arrive in our time, and just to be patient.

I am not in favor of frivolous lawsuits. They cost time, energy and money that could be better spent putting kids through college, feeding the homeless and providing pro bono work. But there are times when it seems like a lawsuit or two is in order, because what all this anti-gay legislation our opponents have passed--or will try to pass--says is that we are unworthy of living free of discrimination, that we are so lowly that it is legally justifiable to discriminate against us, that we are naturally abhorrent and folks that you shouldn't have to work with, live next to, or marry as a justice of the peace.

As more than one straight ally has said, look at Britney Spears*, there's a walking advertisement for the fitness of heterosexuals to maintain a monopoly on marriage and freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

I'd like to see sociological surveys brought out, comparing side by side the income, divorce rate, education level, political activism, charitable work and parenting skills of glbtq Oregonians and straight ones. I'd like to lay it out in numbers and graphs and percentages proving that we are people, virtually statistically indistinguishable from our straight brethren and neighbors, a roughly equal number of wildly deviant folks and the incredibly boring majority. I'd like it to be pragmatically obvious that there is no discernible reason to discriminate other than moral belief, which--as church and state are supposed to be separate--isn't allowed to decide the law, or we would have had a pogrom in this country long ago, and conscientious objectors like my grandfather would have been shot.

Why same-sex marriage is so threatening is a mystery to me, and partly why I wrote my book--The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage. There is nothing threatening about the back-to-back marriages of middle-aged women in long-standing relationships who married on March 3rd, 2004. We were (as I once described my wife) as wholesome as a slice of warm wheat bread. And I think I communicated that--one reviewer described it as "a book about same-sex marriage you could bring home to mother"--that we were just people who wanted to marry the one we loved. In our case, after seventeen years together.

The signatures are counting fast, more on that tomorrow.

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