Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rally for Equality

"Don't wear loafers to a protest, son!"

What was I thinking? Maybe it's demonstration fatigue. For the labor rally on Monday, I was dressed for bear. I had on my full metal jacket of parkas, was well layered beneath that and was wearing my boots, to boot. This evening, I was traveling by bus rather than bicycle so I was less focused on the weather, which turned out to be pissy.

The call to action came from Basic Rights Oregon and was promoted on KPOJ. The rally was in response to the blocking of Oregon's new Domestic Partnership legislation by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman just days before the new law was to go into effect. Mosman's injunction stays in effect at least until his court hears further argument regarding an effort to keep the Oregon Legislature passed domestic partnerships on hold, pending a vote of the People.

Some 1500-2000 demonstrators easily filled the brickwork of Terry Schrunk plaza under a steady drizzle, spilling up onto the sodded and sodden slopes comprising the rest of this city square's amphitheater. The numbers were encouraging and not surprising given the broad coalition that actively supported the event. Beyond GLBT interest groups there were members of labor unions and peace groups (including my friends from Veterans for Peace, Local 72) as well as well as supporters from the faith community.

And there were candidates... Both leading Democratic candidates to challenge Gordon Smith for his US Senate were there, Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley and the Democratic activist with a hard left hook, Steve Novick. City Councilor turned Mayoral candidate Sam Adams was there as were City Council candidates Nick Fish and John Branam whose 1000+ signatures for Voter Owned Election qualification are awaiting verification. I saw Oregon Attorney General candidate, Greg Macpherson in the crowd and former Governor Barbara Roberts on the stage.

As I tramped through the mud, cursing my tractionless choice of shoes, I couldn't help wondering... hoping really that the GLBT community will return this show of support. Not that queer folk aren't already well represented in the communities of faith, justice, peace and labor... It's one thing to show up when your own tribe is threatened, but I know for a fact that a lot of straight folk were in attendance and not because their close friend or relative is gay or because they're running for office.

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