Monday, February 04, 2008

Gay rights victory in Oregon

As of 4:20pm, February 1, 2008, gay couples in Oregon can "register as domestic partners, allowing them to file joint state tax returns, inherit each other's property, make medical decisions for each other and enjoy most of the other state benefits and responsibilities that married residents receive." Please refer to this article from the Oregonian.

US District Judge Michael Mosman dismissed a lawsuit challenging the domestic-partners legislation, which was passed by the Oregon State Legislature in 2007. I flicked on the news this morning and saw that couples were already lining up outside the Multnomah County offices to register as domestic partners.

Judge Mosman had, in early January, blocked the legislation from taking effect in order, he said, to allow opponents of the new law to make their case. Opponents had sought to put the law before voters this fall with a ballot initiative and complained that the Oregon Secretary of State's office would not accept the signatures they had acquired.

Oregon's state legislature came through...
What I find extremely encouraging is that, in the end, the law's opponents, among them the Oregon Family Council, could not muster the 55,179 signatures needed to place their measure on the ballot for this November. They were 96 signatures short, and further, as much as 10% of the signatures they had garnered did not meet the requirements of state officials as being legitimate. (Yet another reason Oregon is such a paradise: right-wing hate groups like the Oregon Family Council do exist here, but Oregonians are smart enough to recognize them as ridiculous, bigoted and contrary to the public interest.)

This is a big victory, not just for homosexuals, but for Oregonians, and the nation at large, akin to the great Civil Rights victories that ended Jim Crow laws and racial discrimination in the 1960s. As this law comes into effect, Oregon joins California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont in recognizing gay couples as having all the rights and benefits associated with heterosexual, married couples.

My contention is that once the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled, in November 2003, that that state's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, legally recognized gay marriage became a foregone conclusion for the nation. Yes, the battle is far from over. And the victories thus far have come at a terrible price. (Many people believe that Republican demagoguery of the gay marriage issue helped Junior Bush in the 2004 election.) But victory will come. It's just a matter of going through the painful transitions required.

Many organized and well-financed entities will fight this tooth-and-nail, and demagogues will use redneck fear of gays to garner support. But there is really little they can do beyond stalling and obstructing what is bound to happen.

Onward, Oregon!
Just like everyone else, I have gay friends, neighbors, and coworkers, and I can see no reason (indeed, no right) for them to be denied the rights that are granted heterosexuals. So, I applaud this victory.

1 comment:

Ridwan said...

Fantastic victory brother. This is indeed excellent news.

Thanks for sharing the link.

Onward to equal rights and dignity for all!

Peace and struggle,