I just entered my own personal hell: Information Gathering.
It’s my own fault, I know. I had to pick a public policy issue to conduct my research on. I debated and sifted through some potential topics, but finally settled on gay marriage in Oregon. Oh, wait. Let me rephrase that: domestic partnership.
I started surfing the Web, just browsing online newspapers, when I came across a story, printed Feb. 8 in McMinnville’s News-Register. It was about the ruling that made Oregon the ninth state to approve spousal rights in some form for gay couples. While that in itself is an amazing step forward in the fight for equality for gay rights, I just can’t help but feel domestic partnership is not the same thing as marriage.
It seems to me that calling a domestic partnership anything other than a marriage is classifying it as second class. This separate-but-equal way of thinking never worked in the past. Anyone remember the Civil Rights movement? Why should we think that would work now?
It astounds me to think of how far our society has come socially, but how far we still have to go. Reading a little further into the story, I came to realize gay marriage was once legal in Oregon, for a brief time at least.
In 2004, Multnomah County passed a law authorizing same-sex marriage, and about 2,900 couples got married. However, the law was deemed unconstitutional and all the marriages voided. To top it all off, a state constitutional ban was placed on same-sex marriages.
Oregon law states “Marriage is defined as a civil contract entered into in person by males at least 17 years of age and females at least 17 years of age.”
According to the Basic Rights Oregon Web site, County Attorney Agnes Swole, the attorney behind the original same-sex marriage law, said the “definition does not state specifically that the contract may only be entered into between partners of the opposite sex; it merely identifies the qualifications of those who may enter into the marriage contract.”
That is how I understood the meaning of the law.
People have their own opinions, beliefs and religions, and I completely understand and respect that. However, I was brought up to accept all walks of life and to respect people for the human beings they are. While I have my own dislikes and prejudices, I would never dream of getting in the way of two peoples’ happiness, whether they were gay, straight or any combination of the two. I can’t be the only one; right?