By Karen Kulm, First Congregational UCC, Vancouver, WA
lgbt I'm human flagWhat a difference a year makes. We now have marriage equality in 20 states and the District of Columbia, though stays have been issued in several of those states pending appeal. In Oregon, ecstatic gay and lesbian couples have been getting married since May 19, 2014. Our own Conference Minister and Conference Moderator were on hand to officiate at many of the unions on that day. Many pastors and churches in the Central Pacific Conference worked tirelessly as people of faith to educate and gather petition signatures for the freedom to marry, and it made a difference.

Now that a majority of Americans support the freedom to marry and state bans are being overturned one-by-one, anti-LGBT groups like the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and their state affiliates are becoming more desperate to enshrine discrimination. They have tried to pass laws in numerous states like Arizona and Oregon that would allow business owners to discriminate against gay and lesbian people in the name of “religious freedom.” After strong pressure from top CEOs and the public, Arizona’s governor vetoed the law. In Oregon, NOM was hoping to get an initiative on the November ballot, but the organization has pulled the measure for now.

Love and Marriage

by Karen Kulm, First Congregational UCC, Vancouver, WA
or united LOVEIn December 2013, a federal judge struck down Utah’s constitutional ban on marriage for same-sex couples. 1,300 same-sex couples quickly married before the window of opportunity was closed by the Utah State Attorney General’s appeal to stay the order. A federal judge in Oklahoma made a similar ruling, but the ruling was stayed before any same-sex couples were allowed to marry.

What about Oregon? Oregon also has a constitutional amendment that excludes same-sex couples from marriage, as well as a lawsuit pending in federal court. The case is working its way through the legal system and may receive a favorable ruling from a federal judge similar to Utah and Oklahoma. Unlike those states, Oregon has a double challenge. Even if a court finds Oregon’s Measure 36 unconstitutional before November 4, the discriminatory language that excludes same-sex couples from marriage will still be in Oregon’s constitution—until Oregonians vote to remove it.

Kicking Off the Summer of Love

Washington State last year, and now Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota in recent weeks have all extended the freedom to marry to every loving, committed couple.  Now it’s Oregon’s turn, and it will take all of us to make it happen.

Join Oregon United for Marriage for the Summer of Love kickoff to step up the campaign to win marriage right here at home.  Meet Saturday, June 8, 10 AM – 2 PM at Bethel Congregational United Church of Christ, 5150 SW Watson Ave., Beaverton, OR 97005.  You’ll get an up-to-the minute campaign update and launch the community conversation with fellow Oregonians.

Volunteers like you will help to collect the thousands of signatures required to put the marriage equality measure on the ballot in November 2014–and we may be able to start gathering signatures sooner than we originally expected!  It’s the beginning of Pride month—a perfect time to tell our stories and change hearts and minds. Don’t forget to bring a friend!

Register for the event here: Oregon United for Marriage.