This month, with the passion and expertise of small-town activists and Human Dignity Groups, ROP is kicking off our participation in a campaign to advance LGBTQ rights by making the Freedom to Marry a right of ALL committed couples in Oregon.
This is an exciting time. There have been HUGE advances in queer rights nationally, and 6 states have now won marriage equality, either through the legislature or through the courts. Supporters of human dignity can see that even if we don’t win all the time, we are starting to win a lot of the time, and sometimes in battles that were hard to imagine years ago. ROP itself was borne of this very struggle, of efforts to create an organized small town voice to counter those who would deny the mere inclusion of LGBTQ in constitutional protections (remember 1988 and 1992).
And while the freedom to marry whomever we choose is not yet a recognized right in Oregon, we have a chance to be the trailblazers that we are by nature. We are ready to build on successes like in the little town of Silverton that elected Stu Rasmussen, the first transgender-identified mayor in the country last year, at the same time that Portlander Sam Adams became the first openly gay mayor of a top 30-largest city.
29 states have now put in place “one man/one woman” laws, similar to Oregon’s Measure 36, which can only be reversed by referring the issue back to voters. If we play our cards right, in 2012 Oregon could be the first state to win the freedom to marry through a popular vote.
But in order to get there, we have got to educate the public, open up hearts and minds, and reach out and talk to our neighbors.
But this cannot, and should not, happen in the urban centers alone. Folks in small town and rural Oregon must lead the way in their own communities to build support for marriage equality and avoid the wedge politics that have plagued this issue for far too long. We are still two years from this high profile political campaign, which gives us just enough time to build support for the freedom to marry within our small-town communities.
To make sure that we lay the groundwork that we need get this to the ballot, and to win in 2012, ROP is committed to working intensively with a select number of communities that are excited to be involved. Together with Basic Rights Oregon, Oregon Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and the Community of Welcoming Congregations, we will make sure that you have the resources and skills to set your own plan of action, and do the kind of organizing that will win marriage equality in Oregon.
Some of the different tools and resources that we are able to offer are:
- The freedom to marry pledge, and matching funds to get pledge-signers printed in your local paper
- Professionally designed literature that features community members from your town that support the freedom to marry
- A visit from a videographer who can help your team to make short documentary testimonials and post them all over cyberspace.
- A filmmaker tour stop in your community featuring a documentary about being queer in rural America
- Strategic planning help, and a regional training where you can meet other communities that are participating in the campaign
It’s not every day that we have the opportunity to make a change like this. Get in touch with email@example.com or call 503-543-8417 to talk about what this campaign could look like in your community.
P.S. Our friends at the Oregon Safe Schools and Communities Coalition is holding a two-day training in Eugene for groups from all across Oregon come learn about how to make their schools and communities a safer place for gay, straight, bisexual, lesbian, and trans people and their allies. The training will take place on October 23 and 24 in Eugene. To register and for more details see their website here.