Earlier this year, the Oregon Legislature passed two bills: Senate Bill 2, which provides gay citizens protection under Oregon’s discrimination laws, and House Bill 2007, giving domestic partnership benefits to same sex couples.
The non-gay agenda
Earlier this year, the Oregon Legislature passed two bills: Senate Bill 2, which provides gay citizens protection under Oregon’s discrimination laws, and House Bill 2007, giving domestic partnership benefits to same sex couples. Both bills went through seemingly unnoticed by the average Oregonian, though the bills did catch the attention of special interest groups that attempted to thwart their effects.
Though individuals who may dissent from these legislative actions have every right to agree or disagree, and to practice whatever beliefs they invest in, they have no precedence above their fellow citizens. No matter what community they belong to, they are subject to the same protections and rights as anyone. An attempt to interfere with bills such as these, or to deny what they would provide, is simply un-American.
It is not surprising that Oregon would try to provide certain protections to a community of citizens that have, until now, been ignored by the law. It comes from our region’s progressive nature. Since it is no secret that Oregon is gay-friendly to begin with, these bills may not seem like news. It is the principle that is important regarding these bills, a statement of social equality.
Restore America, headed by David Crowe, is one of the largest groups that oppose SB 2 and HB 2007. First, it puts forth a straining effort to gather signatures for petitions that would halt the institution of these laws and bring the issue to the November 2008 ballot for all Oregonians to vote on.
According to their view, laws such as these compel citizens to accept what has been established as “immoral behavior.” Furthermore, it denies society the right to make “moral distinctions.”
Restore America presents two major flaws in their logic. The view of homosexuality is not consistent through history or cultures, not even our own. No one corners the market on this issue. From Asia to Europe, from Christianity to Islam, there are multiple views about homosexuality, both positive and negative.
Another error is that SB 2 doesn’t prevent anyone from making any sort of moral distinction. As with any opinion or belief, we as Americans are able to navigate our own decisions. What SB 2 does do, however, is provide the avenue for equality when engaging society as a whole. We do, after all, have to live together in this melting pot.
The idea behind what Restore America wishes to do, which is to bring these bills to the public, isn’t necessarily wrong. However, why they are doing it and their goal is un-American. There is no American ideal that denies rights to individuals. Crowe, for example, has the right to practice whatever he wishes despite the opinions of his neighbors. But he wishes to go further and provide special rights to his select community, in this case an evangelical group, and deny them to another.
According to their website, Restore America’s basis for their stance on SB 2 and HB 2007, and purpose of their actions, is founded in biblical scripture, which further weakens their case. For as it is stated in our First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” If the motivation for instituting a law, or in this case denial thereof, is religious in nature, then Crowe is guilty of exactly what he has accused these bills of doing: forcibly imposing a select morality upon Oregonians through legislation.
When our founding fathers envisioned America and what it could be, they didn’t foresee a country in which one group dominated another. Rather, they created a nation in which we all are able to coexist with our own philosophies and ideals, and where we are free to decide and practice by our own accord. Our laws must reflect this idea and provide an environment where this is possible for all–or they must at least provide such freedom the best we, as imperfect people, can. That is what SB 2 and HB 2007 provide: Equal footing for communities of our neighbors, allowing us all to decide, to make our own moral distinctions and to be free.