You know, when I phone-banked week before last at Basic Rights Oregon to urge folks to show up at the rally tonight, I didn't let myself get excited at the number of people who had pledged to be there. Things happen, people say what you want to hear to get you off the phone, all of a sudden there are more important things to do, and on and on. Not this time. People came from all over the state to attend this thing. I talked to folks from Eugene, Ashland, Bend, who came through all kinds of weather to be here. I know some couldn't make it. Southern Oregon is under a mountain of snow right now. But folks showed up and suited up for this one. According to the news reports tonight, 2000+ people were there. I don't doubt it. We were a massive can of sardines out there. All ages, ethnicities, physical abilities. It was fantastic. At one point, there was special mention given to the number of high school groups that were there. They came from all over, in droves. Anyone who tells me that young people don't care and aren't involved, isn't paying any attention. I saw BRO's Director, Jeana Frazzini, speak at the vigil a few weeks ago, but that little woman packed alot of power into what she had to say tonight.
“When the legislature passed our laws last year, they stood on the right side of history. The federal court was wrong to delay our domestic partnership law and put so many committed couples at risk. And we will not stand by… we will not rest… we will not stop fighting until every gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Oregonian, every same-sex couple can protect their family.”
There were two basic themes that were really apparant tonight. One, which I had noticed at the vigil, that Oregon is way past tired of outside interests deciding to play their insulting games here in our state, and two, that we as a community are on the same page with this one. There was a very specific point made that no matter what ethnicity or religious background we come from, we are all together in this fight.
Speaking to the lessons learned of justice campaigns through history Alisa Simmons, Executive Director of Brother to Brother Portland, had strong words for anti-equality groups. “You will fail,” she said. “Time and time again. You will fail.”
Alisa had even stronger words for the crowd. “We will win,” she said from the podium. “We will win.”
And there is Governor Roberts. Where to start. Governor Roberts is probably the most gracious, kind woman that you could expect to meet, but man can she get fired up when she gets ticked! It was obvious that the outside interests, whom I've written on before, have just plain damn gotten on her bad side. I got to speak to her for a minute before things got going and even though she is sick as a dog right now, there was no way she wasn't going to be there, saying "This is too important." Her public comments were just amazing.
“This is not simply a gay issue. This is an Oregon issue...We must continue to stand up, stand together, and give our time and resources until full equality is a reality here in the state of Oregon.”
She even specifically called out the "right-wing fanatics" on their insulting interference into the lives of Oregon citizens. Needless to say, Governor Roberts received some of the biggest applause!
Anyone involved in this fight (and we all should be) knows that one rally isn't going to all of a sudden fix things. But we do know, in the words of Frazzini, we will not rest and we will not stand by, anymore.