Every week at our Rotary meetings we open with the Pledge of Allegiance. When we get to the last line, "With liberty and justice for all," my heart swells, and I am so proud to be a citizen of a country that upholds that ideal. But imagine for a moment what would happen if a group of people decided to add a little disclaimer to the last phrase of our pledge.
For example: " ... liberty and justice for all, except gay and lesbian people." That seems ridiculous doesn't it? But this is exactly what we are facing with Ballot Measure 36. This ballot seeks to revise the Oregon Constitution to prohibit the rights of people in same sex relationships. Even using the terms gay and lesbian takes away from the humanity of the issue; we are talking about people who are no less valuable, involved, important or human than any one reading this right now. And they are facing a grave loss to their lives and human dignity and rights as Americans.
For many of us, making an amendment denying a group of people their basic rights seems as ridiculous as giving less rights to cowboys just because someone out there doesn't like cowboys, and as regressive and un-American as taking away the rights of black Americans. It is, however, a very serious and contentious issue for many who strongly disagree with the lifestyle, or mere existence of people who love people of their same gender. I am not asking anyone to change their belief system and become comfortable with same sex relationships. In fact, it is your right and freedom to hold your own beliefs. And isn't it wonderful that you can feel the way you do, without infringing upon the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of other Americans? Let's keep it that way by voting No on 36.