There'll be some who will want to plug the Nose for saying it, but advocates for gay marriage are beginning to look and sound like...well, the Bush administration.

The Nose first noticed the similarity back when three of the county's four elected commissioners, along with chair Diane Linn, met secretly with Basic Rights Oregon to do the legal analysis, plot the timing and even discuss the renting of the stage for last month's historic decision to pass out same-sex marriage licenses.

While the commissioners' reading of the Oregon Constitution may be sound, the Nose can't but help have sympathy with those who, like Joseph Tam, are fuming. Tam, a former Portland School Board member who is running against County Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey, thinks there isn't much difference between the behavior of the liberal county commissioners and that of Vice President Dick Cheney. That's right, Cheney.

Remember when Cheney secretly consulted with representatives of oil companies to hammer out a draft of the federal energy bill? An elected official, meeting behind closed doors with a special-interest group to create a policy that directly benefits them?

Sound familiar?

On Friday, gay-marriage advocates took another page from the Bush administration's playbook. Earlier that morning, both sides of the debate faced off in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the current state marriage statutes that prohibit gay marriage discriminate unfairly based on sexual orientation and gender (Bob can marry Sally, but Betty can't). On the other side, the Defense of Marriage Coalition stated its claim that the framers of the state constitution would have intended to protect traditional hetero marriage. It was two hours of refreshingly courteous courtroom drama.

That civility ended shortly after the gavel came down. At a press conference following the proceedings, BRO lobbyist Maura Roche laid into the coalition for using "lies and slurs" about gays to achieve their evil aims.

Like President Bush, some of Oregon's gay-rights activists have adopted a "you're either with us or against us" mentality. Anyone who challenges their worldview is suspect.

Like our Commander-in-Chief, they're not that interested in public debate, reaching out to the other side or admitting that they might have made mistakes in pursuing what they believe is a good cause.

To Bush, anyone who challenges his administration's handling of the 9/11 attacks or the war in Iraq is unpatriotic. To the BRO, anyone who doesn't like having gay marriage shoved down their throats is choking on their own homophobia.

Now, the Nose supports gay marriage. The way he sees it, what's good for the goose and the gander ought to be good for the gander and the gander. He's certainly not interested in the separate-and-unequal idea of civil unions when he knows that it would leave 14 million gay Americans without the same privileges of marriage and feeling like second-class citizens.

But gay-rights advocates would do well to climb down from the moral high ground for a moment and look back at history. After all, it wasn't so long ago that Lon Mabon and his fanatically anti-gay Oregon Citizens Alliance were the ones calling names, chastising people who disagreed with them and alienating everyone in the middle. And look how far that got them.