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Eugene Weekly : Living Out : 2.15.07

The Call

Make your voice heard

BY SALLY SHEKLOW

It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. — Molly Ivins, 1944-2007

Hey. I know you. You've got that lesbian aunt. The gay uncle. A bisexual cousin. You're the one with the butch sister, the sissy brother, transsexual dad, transgender mom, genderqueer son/daughter. Even you, yourself. You've at least experimented, wondered, desired something out there beyond the bulge of the normal curve.

You certainly know enough about human nature, about yourself and everyone in your family, to know that Colorado megachurch founder the Rev. Ted Haggard's three-week reprogramming miracle cure couldn't have totally erased from his genetic code his orientation as a sanctimonious, lying, cheating, meth-snorting butt monkey.

People are who they are.

It's unfair that good people you know and love are legally discriminated against — fired, evicted, refused service — for not being normal enough. They can't go to the courthouse and get a license to protect their partner, their kids and themselves. They don't have equal access to the emergency room, the PTA or, in the end, the mortuary.

I know you. This grates against your sense of decency. You believe in fairness and equality. You've pledged your allegiance to liberty and justice for all. Right?

Now's your chance to step up. Our state government, happily dominated this session by a fair-minded democratic majority, is considering legislation that would ban discrimination in Oregon and open the option of civil unions to all couples. And this time there's no Evil Queen Minnis presiding over the House of Representatives to prevent a vote.

Those lawmakers. They tend to represent the people they hear from. Right now they're hearing from a mobilized and motivated cadre of uptight, narrow-minded, anti-equality voters who don't give a rip about your aunt, uncle, dad, mom, brother, sister, cousin or son/daughter.

Your state senators and representatives need to hear from you! Call, write letters, send email, make your voice heard. Tell them you want everyone in your family — and all families — protected from discrimination. If you don't know your legislators or how to reach them, find all that detail online at www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/home.htm.Urge them to pass the non-discrimination and civil union bill.

Too shy or too busy or too government-phobic to make that call? At least send some money to Basic Rights Oregon at www.basicrights.orgso they can keep working on your behalf.

If you can wrangle a day off, join me and hundreds of Oregonians making the pilgrimage to Salem for the Basic Rights Day of Action, Wednesday, March 7. We'll be at the state Capitol all day learning how to lobby and visiting our legislators. We'll pack the Capitol steps from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm in a huge rally to show our state government it's time to do the right thing. Register online at www.basicrights.organd you'll get the lowdown on the plan for the day, how to carpool, when to be where. It's easy. It's fun. It's necessary. And you'll be in great company.

I know you. You'll do this.

"Living Out" columnist Sally Sheklow is the winner of the Best of Eugene and Lone Star Press writing awards.