The right to marry

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One of Hollywood’s cutest couples is getting married this summer. They were planning on just having a ceremony to commemorate their love, but as Ellen DeGeneres told Sen. John McCain on her May 22 TV show, “It just so happened that I legally now can get married. As everyone should.”

That’s right, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DeRossi, her partner of four years, are finally able to marry thanks to the California Supreme Court overturning the ban on gay marriage May 15.

Currently, Massachusetts is the only other state to recognize same-sex marriages, which were made legal there in 2004. With gay marriage legal in only two states, the United States is definitely trailing its northern neighbor, Canada, which legalized same-sex marriages nationwide July 20, 2005.

So far, the Oregon Supreme Court seems set not to budge from Constitutional Amendment 36, which was passed by Oregon voters in 2004 and declared that marriage could only be between a man and a woman. A counter amendment needs to be voted upon, as the majority of Oregonians seem to have become more open-minded. In 2007, legislation was passed allowing gays and lesbians to form domestic partnerships.

Anti-gay groups have repeatedly attempted to appeal the legislation, failing to acquire enough signatures. I take their failures as a symbol of Oregon moving away from small-minded ignorance to the acceptance and understanding that so many Portlanders depict on their bumpers with one word: “Coexist.” By supporting our neighbors, we will become a more diverse group of individuals that can learn from our differences and celebrate the things we have in common: life, love and so on.

This isn’t the first time this country and Oregon have had to tackle discrimination. Anti-miscegenation laws charged the bride and groom of interracial marriages with felonies until they were finally outlawed by Oregon in 1951 and in the United States on June 12, 1967.

It can seem very distant, imagining a time before many of us were born when Caucasians couldn’t marry African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans or native Hawaiians. Yet, our grandparents can still remember the days when they weren’t free to marry the person they loved, because of the color of their skin. Today, homosexuals meet the same type of discrimination. They cannot marry the person they love because of their gender.

June has always been a traditional month for weddings, stemming from the Roman tradition of marrying in the month of Juno, the goddess of marriage. Plus, June brings the end of school and the beginning of new opportunities for recent graduates. After all, summer is the perfect time for a honeymoon on a romantic tropical island.

As I congratulate the Californian gay and lesbian couples who will exchange vows this summer, I hope that Oregon couples will soon have the same opportunity.

Hopefully, someday people understand that the fight for same-sex marriage isn’t about allowing two women or two men to marry each other. It’s about allowing two consenting adults to make their love official.

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