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November 15th, 2006 Byron Beck | Queer Window
 

Full Speed Ahead

Gays had a good election day. So what's next?

     
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When asked who'd thrown up on outgoing Multnomah County Chair Diane Linn at downtown's Benson Hotel, some old guy quipped: "a Republican."

Republicans weren't the only ones with nervous stomachs.

Even though Basic Rights Oregon didn't have any measures with a direct impact on their cause this ballot, out fundraiser Terry Bean was pacing the lobby looking for U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer. Bean had just finished a phone call with national Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean, expressing his concern over whether the Dems could take the nation's Senate. Dean assured him they would.

Upstairs, on the jam-packed 13th-floor penthouse suites for U.S. Reps. David Wu, Blumenauer and others, no one needed assurances, just more alcohol.

"Let's party!" The tone was downright giddy as lesbians were elected (Virginia Linder to the state Supreme Court, Tina Kotek to the Oregon House) measures were defeated and evildoers were bid adieu (buh-bye Rick Santorum!).

"It's a good night for the left," said former Basic Rights Oregon Executive Director Roey Thorpe, who found it interesting closeted, personally tortured gay men were helping to bring down Pres. Bush's Rove/Rumsfeld-fueled right.

Although amendments banning gay marriage ending up passing in six states, Western States Center's Moira Bowman remarked it was nice that, at least in Oregon, "human dignity wasn't being voted on an actual ballot measure, but in many other ways."

It was great to be in the midst of a winning party. And with rumors of bathroom sex and watching wonks make out in the halls, I couldn't help but think this is what Clinton's kegger looks like.

The morning after the election I also couldn't help but think we might be getting ahead of ourselves. I called Rebekah Orr, BRO's communications director, who told me Tuesday's election was a tremendous opportunity. "It's easy to get excited about the possibilities these wins present," Orr said. "But we have to remember we are in the business of creating long-term change." When I asked her then if we had won the war against queer people, she said, "No, but we won a really important battle."

Rather than slink back into the shadows, Tuesday's election taught us one thing: If elected officials come down on the side of discrimination, they can be taken out. Orr told me, rather cautiously, that BRO would be taking the lay of this new land and coming up with a strategy to move forward on equality now and defend it for the long term.

At least for now, though, it was a fucking great day.

 
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