Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 8.2.07

Yes for Equality
Good news, good news!

Things in Queerville are going great. You might not be tuned into the homo info stream, especially if all your news is “Fair and Balanced.” But if your gaydar is at all functional, you’re picking up on at least some of Oregon’s bountiful happy happenings. If not, here’s an update.

Redmond now recognizes domestic partnerships. Redmond! Wasco County passed an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Everybody say Yeehaw! for The Dalles. And Maupin. And good ‘ol Dufur. (There’s something Dufur can do for you.)

Springfield, Ore., may have lost the Simpsons competition to Springfield, Vt., but we still have lots to celebrate — like our state Legislature. Thank goodness, or the universe, or whatever divine force you choose (or don’t) to acknowledge, sine die ended the reign of democracy-foe state rep. Karen Minnis. Good riddance to that evil queen (no offense to our beloved drag queens). Hi-ho the merry-o. Can I get a big, buh-bye?

True, LGBTQ Oregonians still suffer the legal brunt of discrimination, harassment, and marriage apartheid. Beautiful new nondiscrimination and domestic partnership laws were passed this session but they’re on hold until the 2008 election determines whether we get to keep them. Meanwhile, defending our newly legislated civil rights protections from an electoral challenge is already proving to be an uplifting effort.

Check it out. Let’s have a gran aplausa for the pack of local lesbians who hosted a garden party fundraiser for Basic Rights Oregon. They took in more than $7,000 — twice the goal. BRO is putting the money to good use, too. Log on to and check out their “50 Voices for Equality” campaign. Wow. Fifty allies — clergy, business leaders, farmers and family folks from every corner of Oregon — have put their faces and words on the line online to speak up for nondiscrimination and domestic partnership. How cool is that?

It’s already paying off. Five thousand voters — and counting — have signed the pledge to vote YES for equality in the 2008 general election.

Speaking of raising money, some 30 Eugene and Springfield LGBTQ community supporters stepped up to save The Q Center (,pitching in $13,000 plus toward a rent drive to keep our little community center open at 1309 Lincoln St. Yay!

Another cause célebre for our community results from taking to the streets. Old Jamaican queer basher Buju Banton has signed the “No More Murder Music” pledge. That was probably a stretch for the Boom Bye Bye reggae guy, but pressure from our big demonstration of outrage at the WOW Hall, combined with dozens of other protests around the world, had an impact. Now we have one less Rasta mon spewing negative vibrations against batty boys.

Speaking out against hate can and does make a difference. Sure, we can still be fired, evicted, excluded from marriage benefits and a million and one other opportunities just because of who we are, but things are changing and they’re changing fast. More amazing news buzzes along the gay grapevine every day. Happiness is on the rise.

Don’t buy the stereotype that queer and queer-friendly equal rights activists are on some no-sense-of-humor perpetual bummer. Oh, no. Don’t confuse us with the homophobes, those dour and frightened ignoramuses who simmer in wrenching disgust at all things different. While they writhe in grating impatience for the rapture, we justice-freaks see the arc of history coming around.

So much good stuff is happening that lesbian, gay, bi, trans queer folks and our allies can hardly contain ourselves. Not that we have to. Luckily our annual day of celebration is coming up. Join the party at the Eugene/Sprinfield PRIDE Celebration in Alton Baker Park on Saturday, Aug. 11 and have a gay old time. Yabba dabba do!

Award-winning Eugene columnist Sally Sheklow has been writing for EW since, well, longer than we can remember.