Same-sex couple react to the passage of Measure 36

Wendy Cutler, a Portland State University women’s studiesprofessor, and her partner Corrie Hope Furst were among theMultnomah County couples married last March and April.

However, the passage of Measure 36 has left the future of Cutlerand Furst’s marriage in limbo.

Despite the negative affects Measure 36’s passing will have ongay and lesbian couples, Cutler, 52, maintains a sense of optimismthat Measure 36 will be challenged.

“I don’t see the defeat as much of a blow,” she said, addingthat the feeling comes from an observation of rising group activismagainst the measure.

Cutler met Furst 18 years ago at the Yosemite Women’s MusicFestival. They had met once before – Furst was the ex-partner of anex-partner. They’ve been together ever since.

Currently, Cutler and Furst live in a lavender and turquoisehouse in Southeast Portland with their cat, Chunky, and dog,Fanny.

Oregon voterspassed Measure 36 on Nov. 2. Fifty-six percent voted in favor ofthe measure, 44 percent against. The measure amends the stateconstitution with the statement “only a marriage between one manand one woman shall be legally recognized as marriage.”

Born in Los Angeles, Cutler lived in California and went to UCBerkeley, later working in a rape crisis center and a socialfeminist organization called Berkeley-Oakland Women’s Union. Shegrew up in a family that did not support her sexual orientation.Because of that, she’s always been open about being a lesbian.

Although Cutler identifies herself as anti-traditional when itcomes to marriage, she decided to marry her life partner becauseshe wanted to be a part of what she considers an importantmovement.

Cutler sees getting married in March as the day she joined gayand lesbian couples in publicly declaring that it’s OK to be gayand to get married.

“It was an opportunity to be recognized in a positive context,”Cutler said.

Currently, what effects married gay and lesbian couples willface due to the passage of Measure 36 is not known. But what Cutleris sure about is that the measure is about more then marriage, it’sabout discrimination.

“This issue was used to bring conservative, right-wing people tovote. The best gay and lesbian people have right now is domesticpartnerships and civil unions.”

Cutler said she was both surprised and unsurprised about themeasure being passed and spoke of the difficulty she and herpartner went through when they discovered their neighbor voted yeson Measure 36.

“I have to be tolerant. I feel hurt, I feel disconnected,” shesaid.

She added that this showed her the depth of her neighbor’sreligious indoctrination. “It’s insulting to bring things aboutequal rights and civil rights into a vote.”

But Cutler says she grew up in a much more homophobic world. “Ihave hope, I have total hope,” she said, believing that it ispossible that one day being gay and lesbian won’t be thought of aswrong. “It’s amazing what gay and lesbian people survive,” Cutlersaid. She added that there will always be discrimination andinjustice in the world, there will always be problems. And whatcreates those problems – what she believes allowed Measure 36 topass – is fear.

Cutler believes people should be free to be who they are and beable to identify their relationships the way they want.