Eugene Weekly : Living Out : 1.17.08

So Close
Tasting our rights

We were so close. We planned. We organized. We chose our outfits.

The first day of Oregon’s domestic partner registry was all set to be festive and meaningful. Fruit pies were donated to celebrate the fact that, even though we can’t get the same rights as legally married heterosexuals, we were finally getting a piece of the pie. Nyuk nyuk.

We even had security in place in case the God Hates Fags crowd crashed our party (again). My domestic partner and I, along with hundreds of other Oregon couples, were ready to file our notarized application the moment the county courthouse opened on Jan. 2.

At long last, our relationship would be legally recognized. No more “next of kin only” rules keeping us from our partner’s hospital bedside. We’d finally enjoy the same child-rearing, custody and inheritance rights as other committed couples. Call us radical, but we really would like to protect our families.

Then, at the eleventh hour, in swaggers a cabal of high-powered out-of-state right-wing attorneys — funded by fundamentalist evangelical megabucks — and a federal judge hurls Oregon’s domestic partnership law into limbo. What the hell happened?

Watch closely, kids.

* Governor signs domestic partnership bill into law.

* Opposition gathers signatures to defer law to November 2008 ballot.

* Petitions fall 116 valid signatures short.

* Lawsuit arguing Oregon’s process of validating signatures is undemocratic filed by “Christ-centered” Alliance Defense Fund (as if Jesus taught Hassle thy neighbor).

* Regardless, all 36 Oregon counties prepare to open Domestic Partner Registries on Jan 2.

* Judge rules lawsuit has merit, blocks law from going into effect pending a Feb. 1 hearing.

* Registry celebration screeches to a halt.

* Dammit. Dammit. Dammit.

What a stink bomb. Disappointed and mad as hell, we lit candles, sang songs and told our sad stories to news reporters. In private, away from the TV cameras, we wailed and gnashed and cussed to high heaven. What else can you do?

We’re up against the anti-gay bloc’s unshakable faith. With their twisted take on the Bible, these Energizer bunnies of bigotry are hell-bent on excluding some people from equality — no matter how just our cause, how worthy our souls, how fabulous our parades.

Faith, is it? Alrighty, then. If that’s what it takes, that’s what we’ll bring.

We’ve got faith that the laws of this land will protect everyone equally. You shouldn’t have to be born again to get a fair shake around here. We believe in liberty and justice for ALL. We won’t back down, and we won’t give up. We’ll hold fast for the thousands of couples, the moms and dads, and all the little children who have no legal protection while the delay drags on. We need this law. We need it, and we’ll get it. How’s that for faith?

But it’ll cost us. We’re hiring our own hotshot legal team (to the tune of $50,000) to defend the Family Fairness Act at the Feb. 1 hearing. With no out-of-state deep-pocket megachurch funds flowing our way, we’ll have to come up with the bucks ourselves. And we will.

We’ve already raised over $10,000 at our candlelight vigils in Eugene, Corvallis, Ashland, Bend, Salem, Portland and Pendleton. If you count yourself among the truth-and-fairness faithful, chip in and chip in again. Our voice will be heard.

We’re marching in the streets on this one, folks. Specifically Madison Street and SW 3rd Avenue in Portland on Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 5:30 pm. Rain or shine, gay, straight or somewhere else on the continuum — it’s time to show up and be counted. Make sure they hear us in the Federal Courthouse. Donate to the legal fund and sign up to attend the rally — do both online at www.basicrights.orgThis is the moment where we all step up. It’s time. Don’t let “Jesus Camp” control Oregon’s laws. A little piece of justice is within reach. It’s up to you and me and all of us. We’re so close.

Award-winning writer Sally Sheklow is legally married (in Canada) to her partner of 20 years.