Down the Ballot

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Petition Season is Here!

Most likely if you have been out and about in Oregon at a high foot traffic area you have been asked to sign a petition to get put something on the 2014 Oregon ballot. Oregonians United for Marriage have been out for several weeks now collecting signatures to help get Oregon to repeal Measure 36 (passed in 2004) by Oregon voters. Public opinion has changed a bit on the matter of marriage equality and groups like Basic Rights Oregon think 2014 is a good year to try to amend the Oregon Constitution. Currently, 13 states + DC, and 5 Native American Tribes recognize marriage for same sex couples. Oregon would soon join those ranks if OUFM is successful in getting on the ballot and winning their campaign in 2014. It should be noted that the chances are very good for Oregon. All the states that currently have full marriage equality are states that have generally been carried by Democratic candidates in the last 12 years. President Obama carried all 13 in both 2008 and 2012. This does not mean that it is guaranteed per say, but it perhaps help boosts the confidence of those mounting the campaign. I expect it will be one of the top three campaigns on the ballot after the Senate race and race for Governor.

Another petition drive out there currently, which will probably not garner as much attention as the Marriage Equality debate is the campaign to get Tom McCall a recognized state holiday. Governor McCall turned 100 this year and supporters and friends hope to make sure Oregonians remember him in another 100 years. They want a state holiday on May 22nd of every year. In conjunction with the holiday, they hope to gather support organizations around the state for a Tom McCall Festival, which they want to call Vortex (after the famous rock concert McCall sponsored).

I was approached while I was attending Atomic Arts Trek in the Park this last weekend to sign the McCall petition. I was happy to do so. Perhaps if more people were like Tom McCall our state would be a lot better off today. I don't know how Tom McCall would vote on the marriage equality issue, but I sure bet he'd want it on the ballot for voters to have the chance to debate it in full. If someone tells you "well, we've already decided this issue when we passed Measure 36 in 2004". Remind them that Measure 36 will have been passed a decade ago by the time 2014 roles around. Think about how much has changed in the last 10 years. It is about time to reexamine this issue. I still think it will be a tough vote to carry, but I hope it will pass.

Religious freedom, which is sometimes used as a rallying cry for folks against marriage equality has been lost or confused in this debate. America is a great country when it comes to religious freedom. So long as you don't harm others, you're pretty much allowed to believe what you want to believe in terms of religion. Christians and all the colorful denominations that comprise it, Muslims, Judaism, Buddhists, Scientologists, Hindus, and even those who don't have any religious leanings all make up that wonderful patchwork that is America. Denying a someone the right to marry the person they love is the exact opposite of respecting freedom of religion. Using your faith to dictate how others live their lives isn't right. We wouldn't tolerate people passing laws telling us:  that restaurants can't serve steak on Fridays, preventing businesses from being open from sundown on Friday nights until the appearance of three stars in the Saturday night sky, and of course people would be infuriated if we passed laws saying women could not drive cars.

Religious freedom requires tolerance for faiths different from your own. I hope that in the coming debates over marriage equality in Oregon folks on both sides remember that.

I'm sure there will be others gathering signatures, as soon as I hear about them I will spread the word.
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