Temporarily delayed, our eyes remain on the domestic-partnership prize.
We were so close. We planned. We organized. We chose our outfits.
The first day of Oregon’s domestic partner registry was all set to be festive and meaningful. Fruit pies were donated to celebrate the fact that, even though we can’t get the same rights as legally married heterosexuals, in 2008 we would finally get a piece of the pie. Nyuk-nyuk.
We even had security in place in case the “God Hates Fags” crowd crashed our party (again). My domestic partner and I, along with hundreds of Oregon couples, were ready to file our notarized application the moment the county courthouse opened on January 2.
At long last, our relationship would be legally recognized. No more “next of kin only” rules keeping us from our partner’s hospital bedside. We would finally enjoy the same child-rearing, custody, and inheritance rights as other committed couples. Call us radical, but we really would like to protect our families.
Then, at the eleventh hour, in swaggers a cabal of high-powered out-of-state, right-wing attorneys—funded by fundamentalist evangelical megabucks—and a federal judge hurls Oregon’s domestic partnership law into limbo. What the hell happened?
Watch closely, kids.
• Governor signs domestic partnership bill into law.
• Opposition gathers signatures to defer law to November 2008 ballot.
• Petitions fall 116 valid signatures short.
• Lawsuit arguing that Oregon’s signature-validating process is undemocratic is filed by “Christ-centered” Alliance Defense Fund (as if Jesus taught “Hassle thy neighbor” ) .
• Regardless, all 36 Oregon counties prepare to open Domestic Partner Registries on January 2.
• Judge rules lawsuit has merit, blocks law from going into effect pending a February 1 hearing.
• Registry celebration screeches to a halt.
• Dammit. Dammit. Dammit.
What a stink bomb. Disappointed and mad as hell, we lit candles, sang songs, and told our sad stories to news reporters. In private, away from the cameras, we wailed and gnashed and cussed to high heaven. What else can you do?
We’re up against the antigay bloc’s unshakable faith. With their twisted take on the Bible, these Energizer bunnies of bigotry are hell-bent on excluding some people from equality—no matter how just our cause, how worthy our souls, how fabulous our parades.
Faith, is it? Alrighty, then. If that’s what it takes, that’s what we’ll bring.
We’ve got faith that the laws of this land will protect everyone equally. You shouldn’t have to be born again to get a fair shake around here. We believe in liberty and justice for all.
We won’t back down, and we won’t give up. We’ll hold fast for the thousands of couples, the moms and dads, and all the little children who have no legal protection while the delay drags on. We need this law. We need it, and we’ll get it. How’s that for faith?
But it will cost us. We’re hiring our own hotshot legal team (to the tune of $50,000) to defend the Family Fairness Act. With no out-of-state deep-pocket mega-church funds flowing our way, we will have to come up with the bucks ourselves. And we will.
This is the moment where we all step up. It’s time. “Jesus Camp” shouldn’t control Oregon’s laws. A little piece of justice is within reach. We’re so close.
Sally Sheklow is legally married (in Canada) to her domestic partner of 20 years. To contribute to the Basic Rights Oregon legal fund, log onto www.basicrights.org.