Kalah Allen
Before I propose a plan that could potentially turn same-sex marriage into a reality, I'd like to make a public apology. I have been too hard on Basic Rights Oregon, the chief organization behind the No on Measure 36 campaign. In the past, within these pages, I have lashed out at BRO, labeling them as "ineffective" and steering the fight for same-sex marriage down the wrong path. And while it's true they are incredibly ineffective and made a complete mess out of the "No on 36" campaign, I was wrong to put the blame solely on the BRO leadership. Simply put, it's unreasonable to expect a single organization--especially one as myopic as BRO--to inspire the GLTB community and lead same-sex marriage to its ultimate victory. That's where the "Second Class Citizens" come in.

It's called putting all your eggs in one basket. While a group like BRO could easily manage the senile crackpots of former anti-gay campaigns like the OCA, when facing a well-oiled bigot machine like Tim Nashif's Defense of Marriage Coalition (DOMC), who fuels his army of faux-Christians with illogical and immoral rhetoric--it's simply too much for a single group like BRO to handle.

We all should have realized it. We should have realized it when BRO couldn't come up with a proper response to the Lonnie Roberts scandal. We should have realized it when BRO raised a million dollars more than the DOMC, yet waited until the final weeks of the campaign before getting a radio ad on the air. And most damning of all, we should have realized something was definitely wrong when the first line in the "No on 36" TV ad was, "I'm not sure how I feel about same-sex marriage… " Staying on the defensive and wishy-washy rhetoric didn't work for the Democrats, and it helped drive the nail--one that admittedly would've been hammered in anyway--into the "No on 36" campaign.

But I'm sincere in my apology to BRO. They are a highly valued, and much-needed BUREAUCRATIC organization. They push paper, create legislation, raise money, and train lobbyists--and they do it well. What they don't do well, and shouldn't be expected to do, is "inspire." BRO recently held an "Equality Day of Action" promising to produce "more than 1,000" angry gays and lesbians to rally on the steps of the state capitol. Less than 500 showed up. BRO organizers may not be a plate of cold fish, but they're not Mel Gibson in Braveheart, either.

"Inspiration" is the foundation of every fight against inequality, whether the fight was won by Gandhi, the United Farm Workers, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr., or much more recently, ACT UP, who not only used nonviolent direct action to battle discrimination against AIDS victims, but homophobia and violence against gays and lesbians.

So if it's inspiration the GLBT community needs, where will it come from? Where is the group that should be working in tandem with BRO--a group that favors direct action, fanning the passion for justice that lies dormant inside every gay and lesbian who's fucking tired of being pushed around by closed-minded bigots? Where is the group that can redirect the thousands that march against the Iraqi war or AIDS, getting them to also block traffic for the equal rights of ALL Oregonians? And where is the group that hits bigots where they live, forcing them to confront the hypocrisy of their misdirected morality? That group is you--and the rest of Oregon's "Second Class Citizens."

Like reclaiming the word "faggot" or "dyke," the term "second class citizen" should be embraced and sewn to a flag, waving it in the face of those who would deny anyone their rights. It's the "Second Class Citizens" who, if they're going to be treated as such, will be happy to act accordingly--whether that means staging gay marriages on the lawns of homophobic churches, chaining themselves to the capitol doors, or refusing to pay taxes.

What does this accomplish? Plenty. It shows everyone in Oregon and the nation that you give a shit. It shows that civil unions never were, and never will be, enough. It shows that, just like the Christians, you have moral strength behind your ideals. And most of all, it shows that regardless of how long it takes for the courts and legislators to rule on your "second class" status, you're not going to stand idly by and let your life, happiness, and equality be dictated by the false morality of a well-oiled bigot machine. Besides, nothing disrupts a machine more effectively than having a wrench thrown inside.