Q: Why is it so important that gay and lesbian couples be allowed to marry?
A: One of the main protections that come with marriage is the word marriage itself, and the security, clarity, and dignity it brings to couples doing the hard work of being in a committed, long-term relationship. To be denied the vocabulary of marriage and its meaningful, resonant, and readily understood statement of love and commitment — and instead, have to fumble for 10 documents, explain a new term that doesn’t even have a verb, and, possibly, retain a lawyer just to protect your family in a time of crisis — is not fair and not equal.
Q: Gay and lesbian couples in Oregon can get a domestic partnership. Isn’t that enough?
A: There have been efforts -including Oregon's domestic partnership law - to provide same-sex couples the basic protections that all other families rely on. Although they help, they fall short of the things that only marriage can provide. The ability to speak for and be with your loved one in an emergency room. A child's knowledge that their family is as valid as other families. There are many ways that only marriage allows you to protect and care for the people you love. Being locked out of these basic protections means real harm to real people.
Q: Why start this conversation now?
A: The heat of a campaign is no time to start a calm, heartfelt conversation about why marriage is so important to so many Oregonians. The volume is simply turned up too high, and there’s too much political rhetoric flying around. Yet we know that the single most important action Oregonians can take towards achieving marriage equality is having conversations with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors – anyone who will listen – about why the freedom to marry matters to them.
Q: Is Oregon ready for this?
A: Attitudes toward marriage equality are shifting across the country. Five states so far – Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut – have ended gay couples’ exclusion from civil marriage. People are opening up on this issue every day.
Additionally, Oregon itself is changing. Already, about one-quarter of today's electorate were not Oregon voters in 2004. Projecting this trend forward, 40-45% of voters in 2012 will be new or new to the state since 2004. That's a lot of voters who have never had a chance to vote on this issue, and who didn't vote for Measure 36.
Q: Why wait until 2012 to put a measure on the ballot? Why not mount a campaign in 2010?
A: The conversation about why marriage matters is an important one, and Oregonians must have the time to really engage in that conversation before a political campaign were to get started.
Additionally, because 2012 is a Presidential election year, more people will be engaged and voting, especially younger Oregonians. This is a critical right that affects a lot of Oregon families. The greater number of Oregonians who participate, the better.
Q: What is Basic Rights Oregon Education Fund’s “Marriage Matters to Me” campaign?
A: Sometimes it can feel challenging to start a conversation about marriage equality, because for too long this has been a political debate. But when we actually talk to our neighbors about the impact of shutting some people out of marriage, we open up a new dialogue and change the tone of the debate. … which is exactly why the conversations are so important.
To aide Oregonians in opening up this dialogue, Basic Rights Oregon Education Fund and Freedom to Marry are launching an innovative tool – taking advantage of new technologies to spur conversation in person and online. We will be recording individual video messages on digital video cameras and uploading them to www.marriagemattersoregon.org, where supporters can automatically distribute their own video to their own contacts by email, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
This first phase of the Marriage Matters education program will help break down barriers and begin an honest, heartfelt and extended conversation about the fact that marriage matters to all Oregonians.
Q: I want to help win civil marriage for same-sex couples. Now that I have made my “Marriage Matters To Me” video, what else can I do to help?
A: By joining together to extend the freedom to marry to committed gay and lesbian couples in Oregon, we can build strong families and strong communities.
You can volunteer your time. Go online and tell us how you want to get involved.
You can make a donation to support this education campaign.
You can spread the word and share this campaign with your friends and family to help them get involved.
And you can always give us a call. Reach the Basic Rights Oregon Education Fund office at 503-222-6151.
Q: Where can committed gay and lesbian couples get married?
A: Six states already embrace the freedom to marry. These are Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa, New Hampshire and Maine.
Q: My partner and I have been together for 17 years. We were legally married in Iowa in another state before we moved to Oregon. Is our relationship recognized in here?
A: No. The Oregon state constitution currently prohibits recognition of same-sex marriages. Same-sex couples in Oregon can register as domestic partners and be eligible for some the rights and responsibilities. To find out more, read Basic Rights Education Fund’s Domestic Partnership Resource Guide.