By Nick Mattos, PQ Monthly
Do you want all Oregonians to have the right to marry? With the help of Basic Rights Oregon — the state’s leading advocate for marriage equality — we’ve assembled eight simple things that you can do right this minute to help Oregon be the first state to vote out a constitutional amendment limiting the freedom to marry.
1) Tell your story. Call a friend, family member, or acquaintance — perhaps one you haven’t spoken to in a while — and talk with them frankly and openly about the issue of marriage equality. “We know that 20 to 30 percent of people nationwide continue to waver in their position on marriage,” says Peter Zuckerman, media manager for Basic Rights Oregon (BRO). “These friends, neighbors and family members are not the opposition. They are good and fair people who are undecided on this issue.… As more and more people talk to gay and lesbian friends and family about why marriage matters, they’re coming to realize that this is not a political issue. This is about love, commitment, and family.… When Oregonians understand that we want to make a lifelong commitment to the person we love — and marry that person so we [can] care for and protect our loved one — we gain support for the freedom to marry. That’s why we need to tell our stories.”
2) Pledge your support. BRO’s “Love. Commitment. Marriage.” initiative asks supporters to sign an online pledge as an affirmation of their support of the efforts to make Oregon the first state to overturn a constitutional ban on marriage, and to make a commitment to have at least 10 conversations about why marriage matters. For more information and to sign the pledge, go to LoveCommitmentMarriage.org
3) “Like” Basic Rights Oregon on Facebook and follow them on Twitter (@BasicRights). “By becoming our Facebook fan and Twitter follower,” Zuckerman explains, “you get to be in the first group of people who learn what we are up to. You learn how to become more engaged, you help us organize, and you help us ensure that all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Oregonians experience equality.”
4) Share your thoughts on marriage equality via social media. Researchers at Facebook, Cornell, and the University of Michigan recently cited that the average Facebook user has 234 friends; while many of these are likely folks that the given user sees day-to-day, most people are connected to many people from their school histories and past jobs that they may not interact with frequently. Sharing your thoughts on marriage equality — especially the reasons as to why the issue is personal for you — can help to put a human face on the issue, a critical part of changing people’s minds and hearts about the importance of the freedom to marry.
5) Read a book. Arming yourself with a diverse array of facts, resources, and viewpoints on marriage by reading up on the subject can help you to feel more confident about discussing marriage equality and discuss it in a more compelling way. “When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage” by M. V. Lee Badgett (2010: NYU Press) provides a thorough and readable primer on the current state of the marriage equality debate while providing valuable new insights into the political, social, and personal stakes involved — critical for anyone who wants to speak lucidly as to why marriage equality matters. Bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage” (2010: Penguin) considers the role of marriage in a wide variety of cultures, contexts, and configurations, giving a lucid illustration as to why marriage is both a malleable construct and a critically important right for all people. For a consideration of the other sides of the argument, “Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage” (2010: Against Equality Press) assembles essays from noted queer theorists such as Kate Bornstein and Mattilda Berinstein Sycamore, considering marriage equality in the light of its potential repercussions for queer people and the larger fight for equality.
6) Sign up to volunteer. Volunteers with organizations such as BRO do direct grassroots action to promote equality. Opportunities are available in a wide array of roles, including phone banking, direct voter outreach, video projects, data entry, and participation in committees. The victory for marriage equality in Washington alone involved over 30,000 volunteer hours. Even if you can only spare an hour a week (or even a month), every little bit of volunteer engagement can make a major impact for the future of marriage. Email BRO at email@example.com or call (503) 222-6151 for more information or to sign up to volunteer.
7) Donate. Campaigning for marriage equality took cash — in Washington, the effort to secure marriage for all took over $11 million. In order to execute the goal of marriage for all here in Oregon, BRO and other such organizations need your financial support. BRO in particular has several different options for the recipients of your gifts, some of which are even fully tax-deductible.
8) Report discrimination and hate crimes. Reporting acts of anti-gay violence and bias isn’t just a means to reclaim your voice after an atrocity — it can also help raise awareness of LGBTQ issues and spark conversations about human rights, including marriage for all. The data collected when reporting discrimination and hate crimes also drives enforcement and helps organizations such as BRO to understand where more education and outreach is needed, ultimately securing a safer and more equitable environment for all.
For more information and resources on the efforts to secure marriage in Oregon, go to BasicRights.org.