Listening to the “Yes on 36” Voter

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DID THE 2004 ELECTION demonstrate that Americans oppose gay rights? After traveling to Oregon and spending ten days volunteering with the effort to defeat that state’s anti-gay constitutional amendment, I came away concluding that this was not the case. They’re not against gay rights, and most of them aren’t even against gay marriage. They’re uncomfortable with it, though. They find it hard to talk about, even with their family members, and they often don’t know very much about what civil marriage actually entails. In this context, the opposition’s slogan, “One Man, One Woman,” played rather effectively upon voters’ unfamiliarity and discomfort with this issue.

The “No on Constitutional Amendment 36” campaign lost, as most people expected it would. And although the margin (57 to 43 percent) was closer in Oregon than in any of the other ten states where voters have just decided to alter their states’ constitutions so as to make people like me second-class citizens in perpetuity, it still hurts. And most of all,

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