My story is simple and even a little romantic.
I'm fortunate to have an amazingly talented man in my life. In the '80s I used to work at a well-known clothing store, at the then newly opened shopping mall in downtown San Diego, Horton Plaza. Eric was a regular customer who used to shop for jeans to fit his fine 6'6" frame. Eric left a memorable impression on me. OK, it didn't hurt that he was also tall and handsome! As time went on, I ended up getting a performance job in a variety show called City Streets at San Diego's Sea World and lost track of Eric. Years later, I moved to Los Angeles to further pursue my theatrical endeavors. Walking home one warm summer evening, I came across a familiar face. It was Eric, who had recently moved to Portland Oregon but was in LA on a date. After a brief and awkward introduction, we again went our separate ways. I walked away with a smile of my face and a warm tingly feeling again in my gut. Shortly after my chance encounter with Eric I moved to the civilly-inclusive and progressive city of Amsterdam, NL to work on my international tourism skills. In 1999 I flew to Seattle for a surprise Thanksgiving visit to see my mother and sisters. When Saturday night came around I escaped the family to hang out with my guy friends who I knew moved there from San Diego. After playing catch up, we decided head out to a club. It was packed and made plans to rendezvous back by the coat check at midnight. That's when serendipity again played its hand. As I turned around from retrieving my coat, I ran into Eric. This was the beginning of a really short, long distance relationship. Six months later I would find myself living in Portland, Oregon.
While living in Amsterdam I had the opportunity to behold a city that really comes out and supports its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer (LGBTQ) community. During their annual canal Pride celebration thousands of onlookers line the streets, and bridges along the route. It was a huge spectacle with families and tourist alike cheering and dancing in comradery. Here in the US, June traditionally kicks off the summery season of fun, merriment, and of course Pride parades. To me, it's a time to come together to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of my friends, allies, family and have a good laugh. For some same-sex couples this summer was to be an unforgettable moment in herstory/history brought to you by the Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court weighed in on DOMA and Prop 8, it was destined to change the lives of some previously married same sex couples. Personally, it gave me and other committed couples hope that finally we members of this "Gay Movement," were heading in the right direction toward equality. Is my relationship worth fighting for? Without any hesitations that answer is yes. Why should I (we) be penalized for who we choose share our hearts, souls, and lives with? Love is something to be shared and doesn't make a person less worthy of equitable treatment based on their sexual orientation.
I was curious about some statistical data related to same sex couples and came across an article from Adweek.com. Based on the 2012 article, there were over 646,000 same-sex couples in 2010. Of those couples, 131,729 identified themselves as being married. Unfortunately, there are still certain higher profiled persons, such as Nevada Judge Robert C. Jones, who believe that allowing gays and lesbians to marry will be the end of humanity. Really? I'd like to know exactly how that would happen. Does he think the world will then become inhabited by the Zombie Homo-Pocalypse? Maybe his honor has watched one disaster film too many. Realistically, the urge for procreation will continue amongst mankind and womankind as long as the desire for a family exists intentional or otherwise.
Good friends of mine and Oregon residents have been legally registered as domestic partners since 2004. Dabney Tompkins & Alan Colley consider themselves married. When asked recently about gay marriage, Tomkins commented that this is our time. In the 80s and early 90s, we (the LGBTQ community), spent years attending the funerals of loved ones who died from AIDS. Now, we can and do gather to celebrate the love and commitment our friends share for one another by attending their weddings. Many of my gay and lesbian friends have been in long-term and stable relationships. The only thing that they don't have is the official and legal recognition of their relationship status. Many have the domestic partner label but that still isn't the same under the law as marriage. Sadly in 2004, the misinformed, but usually progressive Oregon voters passed a constitutional amendment making the only recognized marriage be that between a man and a woman. That was almost 10 years ago and now things have hopefully evolved. With a new army of educated voters that have come of age, marriage equality is now the key focus of several organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, and Basic Rights Oregon. Both groups are working in tandem with Oregon United for Marriage to gather enough signatures to amend the state constitution in the 2014 elections.
In 2012, the Williams Institute published a report on the potential three-year economic impact of Washington State's passing of gay marriage. Over three years, the state could earn as much as $88 million in revenue. These figures make some serious and fiscal common sense. Logically there are gay and lesbian couples with disposable incomes that would contribute to the local bottom line in areas of tourism, floral, catering, and legal services (wills, prenuptial agreements, etc.). Hopefully Oregon will follow suit. With so many states struggling to find ways to bridge funding gaps, maybe it's time for lawmakers and constituents alike to put aside their personal biases and look at ways that will create an inclusive environment where everyone wins and there are no losers. Either way, those states that do vote for equitable change will also reap the financial benefits.
Eric and I have been together now for almost 14 years, and if all the powers in the universe align, we plan on being together for the rest of our lives. All I ever wanted in a relationship is someone who will spiritually support me, make me laugh, treat me respectfully and most importantly who loves me. Eric is a friend, occasionally my conscience, and is my partner (meaning mutual decision maker). We are fully committed to one another. I don't want to go beyond the borders of my citizenship to marry. I want to marry in the state and country where I live, work, and pay taxes. My life aspirations and goals are no different from those in an opposite-sex relationship. Next year I hope that Oregon will become part of a growing change of equality in this country.
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