Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Local Weather

Cloudy

48°F

Portland

Cloudy

Humidity: 100%

Wind: 0 mph

  • 23 Nov 2014

    Cloudy 52°F 45°F

  • 24 Nov 2014

    PM Rain 53°F 49°F


My View: Judge's ruling a victory for equality, fairness

This has been a whirlwind of a historic year for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement. And now, on Monday, in Oregon, another step forward has been achieved.

After decades of hard work and countless setbacks, a majority of Americans support the freedom to marry, and courts across the country are throwing out marriage restrictions.

From Idaho to Arkansas, courts across the nation are unanimously affirming that there is no reasonable argument for our government to deny marriage to loving and committed couples. This month Idaho became the 16th consecutive state or federal court victory since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in “Windsor v. United States” last June.

A year ago, we believed, with good reason, that the only path to the freedom to marry in Oregon was through the ballot. Once the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Windsor case, the legal landscape shifted dramatically, and by the end of the year we had joined a federal lawsuit.

In February, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced she considered the state’s ban on same-sex marriage “indefensible” and would not defend Measure 36 (an initiative passed in 2004 that amended the Oregon Constitution to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman) in court.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane denied a last-minute attempt by the out-of-state group National Organization for Marriage to intervene in the case. Since then, we dared to dream a court decision would go our way.

Meanwhile, we also have undergone a roller-coaster of changes as the Oregon Family Council announced they would take an Arizona-like discrimination measure to the November ballot, only to later withdraw from their efforts.

With Judge McShane’s ruling Monday to throw out Measure 36, the LGBT movement in Oregon has reached a great victory in our continuing quest to be treated with equality and fairness.

The changes of the past year have at times felt dizzying. While it often seems inevitable in hindsight, change of this magnitude only comes with hard work, and this sea change of support for the freedom to marry came as a direct result of thousands of Oregonians who have had brave conversations with friends, family and even strangers about why marriage matters.

As Oregonians heard from friends, family and neighbors about why marriage matters to all caring and committed couples, we’ve seen hearts and minds change on this issue.

During the past few decades, Oregon has faced more anti-gay state and local ballot measures than any other state. The coalitions we have built during the years to fight these measures has strengthened us and made Oregon unique. We have built lasting relationships with the business community, communities of color, rural communities, faith leaders and individuals across this state.

While we were not certain the past few days how Judge McShane would rule, we were confident that we would win the freedom to marry this year. Now we know that 2014 will be remembered as the year loving and committed couples across the state won the freedom to marry the person they love.

Achieving the freedom to marry, while significant and profound, does not mean the struggle for equality is done. Our community is diverse in its needs and struggles, and our organization has never been a single-issue organization. 

Too many gay and transgender Oregonians continue to experience discrimination in their daily lives. Basic Rights Oregon will continue our work to ensure not only legal equality, but lived equality, for all Oregonians by:

• ensuring Oregon’s nondiscrimination laws are enforced;

• increasing access to medically necessary care for transgender Oregonians on the Oregon Health Plan;

• ensuring the safety and respectful treatment of transgender Oregonians in the Corrections system; and

• continuing our work to centralize the leadership of LGBT families of color, and moving our communities to take actions in support of racial justice.

We celebrate this ruling on marriage, and we pledge to continue engaging Oregonians across the state on issues impacting the lives of gay and transgender Oregonians.

Jeana Frazzini is the executive director of Basic Rights Oregon.