Last Wednesday, the anti-gay organization In Defense of Marriage turned in 244,000 signatures for a ballot measure banning same-sex marriage. Although the group started their campaign late, they managed to pick up more than twice the requisite number of signatures. It still remains to be seen whether all their signatures are valid. Basic Rights Oregon has leveled charges that the group misused churches to coerce parishioners into signing ballots. Those challenges aside, it's likely that this November, voters will be asked to decide who can legally marry in this state.
Unfortunately, this voter initiative has a real chance. Only four years ago, Measure 9, which would have prohibited discussion of homosexuality in public schools, was narrowly defeated. For many voters, that ballot measure was a more radical notion than calling for a ban on same-sex marriage.
There are several legal arguments against a ban on same-sex marriage. It offends basic equality tenets of the federal constitution and goes against the ideals of separation of Church and State. But the debate this fall will most likely focus more on the acceptability of gays and lesbians into "normal" society.
I hear in conversations with gay friends how they will be "devastated" if the initiative passes. This, I fear, is the wrong approach. Yes, the legal challenges and ballot measure have snuffed out some of the joy and elation from the gay marriage licenses being issued here this spring. But although it feels good to be liked and accepted, we must not start caring too much about what people think about us gays and lesbians as a class of people. This is seeking validation from an outside source--be it laws or individuals. Such a mentality can only lead to self-doubt, self-deprecation, and thinking about our selves as "less than." It plays into the hands of the bigoted and ignorant.
For centuries, same-sex couples have made commitments to each other, validating our own love, on our own terms. We have a long fight ahead. But the first victory that we can score is to recognize that this is a battle for equal rights, not acceptance. MICHAEL SVOBODA
This Sunday, Tart, a swank soirée where the queer girls play, will donate proceeds from the door to BRO. Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison, 4 -9 pm