Oregon’s new laws to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Oregonians from discrimination and recognize domestic partnerships were signed by our governor and set to take effect January 1, 2008. But even before the ink dried—and with a ballpoint pen, that’s pretty quick—the opposition launched a drive to put it to a vote. Now Oregon’s new civil rights protections will sit on ice until the 2008 general election.
Across the country, our rights are up for grabs. Along with voting in a new president, the nation’s electorate will decide on a transgender-inclusive antidiscrimination law, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, lifting the antigay military ban, transgender-inclusive hate-crimes laws, civil unions, domestic partnerships, marriage equality, adoption, and the Federal Marriage Amendment.
Gauging from past antigay initiatives, the lead-up to the elections won’t be pretty. Prepare for queer-hating rhetoric getting more airtime under the guise of political debate. Stand back when all the old nasty myths and stereotypes are unleashed. It will be tough, especially for queer kids who you know are going to hear a lot worse than “that’s so gay.”
During the political frenzy between now and the Election Day 2008 elections, we fair-minded folks will need to know who is with us. We’ll be checking over our shoulder to see who has got our backs. Can your friends and loved ones be counted among the lesbian/gay/bi/trans/queer-friendly? Give them the quiz!
1. When I meet a lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer (LGBTQ) person, I usually:
a. Tell them they’re an abomination against God.
b. Try to act cool, but I can’t help wondering why they’re that way.
c. Shake their hand.
2. I believe LGBTQ people are:
a. Morally degenerate.
b. Abnormal, but they can’t help it.
3. Some of my best friends are:
a. Grieving for Jerry Falwell.
c. Not allowed to get married under U.S. law (except in Massachusetts).
4. Homosexuals are:
b. Sick, but they’re talented.
c. Sick and tired of harassment and discrimination.
5. Most LGBTQ people want:
a. To take over our schools and teach immoral behavior to our children.
b. To dress like the opposite sex.
6. When someone tells a fag joke I usually:
a. Get an adrenaline rush and the urge to smear a queer.
b. Laugh real loud so nobody thinks I’m gay.
c. Explain why the joke perpetuates harmful stereotypes and that most people who tell those jokes tend to be insecure about their own sexuality.
7. My opinion about the ban on gays in the military is:
a. Keep the ban.
b. Don’t ask, don’t tell.
c. Ban the military.
8. Oregon’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people should:
b. Keep it in the privacy of their own bedrooms.
c. Be protected against discrimination, so I’m telling everyone not to sign any antigay petitions and to support the candidates who support equality.
How did you do?
• Add one point for every “c” answer.
• Add zero points for every “b” answer.
• Subtract three points for every “a” answer and do 10 hours of community service.
• 7–8 points = Congratulations and thank you—you are LGBTQ-friendly!
• 5–6 points = Nice try, but I wouldn’t let you marry my sister.
• < 5 points = Your eyelids are getting heavy. You will forget to vote in 2008.
Sally Sheklow, who agitates for her rights in Eugene, Oregon, received both first- and second-place honors in the magazine column category in the 2005 Houston Press Club Lone Star Awards.