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Washington passes same-sex legislature and Prop 8 is overruled—but what about Oregon?

The past week has been a tumultuous one for gay rights. That’s right, folks; a bill allowing gay marriage was passed in Washington State and a federal appeals court ruled California’s much hated and heavily protested Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional.

Washington passes same-sex legislature and Prop 8 is overruled—but what about Oregon?

The past week has been a tumultuous one for gay rights. That’s right, folks; a bill allowing gay marriage was passed in Washington State and a federal appeals court ruled California’s much hated and heavily protested Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional.

For those out of the loop, Prop 8 was a 2008 amendment to California’s Constitution. In June of 2008, a ruling by the Supreme Court of California delegated an equal protection bill that legalized gay marriage. Said bill was overturned after a majority vote helped pass Prop 8 in November 2008, thus banning same-sex marriage.

Any marriage that took place in the five-month window between passing and banning was legally recognized by the state. Further legislation ruled that any future unions granted out of state would be recognized as well, and retain full state-level marriage rights, excluding the legal term “married.”

After the passing of Prop 8, many equal-rights groups, politicians and individuals had attempted to overturn the ban, but none were successful until now. Thanks to the federal appeals court that ruled Prop 8 as unconstitutional, same-sex marriage is one step closer to the Supreme Court, where it can be fully ratified. The federal appeals court ruled Prop 8 as unconstitutional on the grounds that it singled out a minority group for disparate treatment with no compelling reason.

The justices involved with the court appeal concluded that Prop 8 had no purpose other than to deny marriage to gay couple. California already grants same-sex couples all the other rights and benefits of marriage so why deny the title as well?

While Prop 8 was overruled, Washington State surprised everyone with its own passing of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage was banned in Washington in 1998, and until last week, the ban had been upheld. Same-sex marriage is not recognized until the bill is signed.

And on Feb. 13, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed the bill. The bill has gained thousands of supporters, including Washington-based companies Starbucks, Amazon and Microsoft.

Alas, where there are supporters there are always opponents. Although Rick Santorum was supposed to be out of the race for top Republican candidate, he has (sadly) made a comeback. With his wonderful personality, Santorum has brought a whole slew of anti-gay legislation with him.

In the past Santorum has expressed his belief that marriage should be limited to a one man, one woman, and that an imprisoned father was preferable to a homosexual parent.

Santorum has always been against gay rights and same-sex marriage. In a 2005 interview he famously said that same-sex marriage was no different from “man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be.”

Santorum’s blatant dislike of same-sex couples has made him a hero to those opposed to gay rights and a devil-like figure to those of us pushing for equality. For more on Santorum, Google search his last name; you won’t be sorry.

Sadly, Rick Santorum is not the only thing gay marriage supporters have to worry about. Once again, Westboro Baptist Church has vowed to do everything in their power to ban gay marriage in every state, starting with Washington.

First of all, where do these people come from? Second, their idea of protesting against gay marriage was to appear at a funeral for two young boys who recently died in a violent fire in Tacoma, Wash.

The two boys, Charlie and Braden Powell, sons of missing mother Susan Powell, were brought to their father’s house by a caseworker for a supervised visit. The caseworker was locked out of the house by the father, Josh Powell, who proceeded to attack his sons with a hatchet and set the house on fire. Both Powell and the two boys died in the fire.

What violent parental murders have to do with gay marriage beats me, but Westboro Baptist Church has always been lacking in the empathy and sympathy (and intelligence) departments. Aren’t they supposed to be following the words of Jesus Christ who, according to the Bible, always expressed respect and equality for everyone?

The church’s reasoning behind the protest was that “God” killed the boys because Washington State was going to legalize gay marriage. Margie Phelps, one of the members of Westboro, sent out a message via Twitter stating, “This is why God’s cursed you w Josh Powells blowing up kids.” Grammatical weaknesses aside, Phelps’ justification of her group’s protest is both disturbing and disgusting.

Westboro did however end up canceling their scheduled protest. After the initial announcement that Westboro would be protesting the funeral, hundreds of people, including Occupy Seattle, came forward to vow they would block Westboro from approaching the funeral. Chivalry and equality are still alive after all.

Washington legislature is attempting to do some good in furthering its legalization of same-sex marriage. What happens between consenting individuals is their own business, and no one, church or individual, has the right to tell them they’re wrong.

Washington still has a long way to go before everyone will be happy with its laws regarding gay rights. Honestly, nothing will ever make everyone happy, so the idea of unity and equality is, sadly, a farce.

But what about the future of same-sex marriage in Oregon? With California down below and Washington up above, it would make sense for Oregon to have a legalization bill of its own.

“I’m extremely grateful for Washington’s huge step forward, and thankful I’m alive to see it,” said communication freshman Cody Bowman. “Although, having such an amazing event happen so close to home makes me wish for a change locally.”

Bowman is right. With our west coast neighbors surpassing us in terms of equality, a progressive state like Oregon needs to step up and make its own changes.

In 2004, Oregonians voted to amend the state constitution, disallowing lawmakers from pursuing a change in the law regarding same-sex marriage, and declaring Oregon would only recognize marriage between a man and a woman.

If Oregon is going to follow Washington and California, the entire state has to vote to veto the constitutional amendment. According to Jeana Frazzini, a spokesperson for Basic Rights Oregon, before a move to legalize gay marriage in Oregon can happen, legislatures need to know that the public would support such a bill.

“It was clear looking at the landscape in the fall that we needed more time to have the conversation,” Frazzini said in an interview with Katu News. “Voters [and] the numbers just weren’t there in terms of support for a 2012 ballot measure campaign.”

Those hoping for a same-sex marriage bill on the 2012 ballot will be disappointed. Any Oregon legislature regarding gay rights won’t be showing up till later. Basic Rights Oregon is hoping to see it on the 2014 ballot.

Those of us supporting a legalization of gay rights need to get active and informed. The presidential election is nine months away, and the Oregon primary is May 15. If you support same-sex marriage, find a politician that supports it as well. Get out there, be active, be loud, vote! Otherwise nothing is going to change.