This Week in the Mercury


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blumenauer Regrets Pro-"Defense of Marriage" Vote, Signs on to Repeal Bigoted Law

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 3:10 PM

Portland's congressman Earl Blumenauer just posted an interesting, repentant article on Huffington Post about the worst vote of his 36-year career: his vote in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act back in 1996.

Earl B gives some insight into his vote 13 years ago that helped craft a federal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman:


Having given it much thought, I was convinced that by voting for this one federal statute against the recognition of same-sex marriage, it would somehow take the steam out of the Newt Gingrich-Tom Delay Congress, which was using the homophobic right-wing agenda to mobilize their base at the expense of millions of gay, lesbian, transgendered, and bisexual Americans. My hope was to simply move on and get to more pressing business at hand, including smaller steps for equality based on sexual orientation, like legislation against employment discrimination.

Since I was an outspoken supporter of anti-discrimination, I assumed that my calculations would be understood by my friends in the community and that we would lay this obnoxious political vendetta to rest. Wrong on all counts.

Now, after realizing that his vote led to a nation-wide assault on legal same-sex partnerships and strong criticism from his progressive base, Blumenauer says he has signed on to support a bill repealing DOMA. While it's a good step for Blumenauer politically, I'm not certain whether any success will actually come from trying to repeal our nation's bigoted marriage laws ASAP. Here in blue state Oregon, LGBT advocates are taking it slow and pushing to repeal the state constitutional amendment defining marriage as a hetero institution by as soon as 2012. California is aiming for the same year. If Blumenauer and friends are able to repeal DOMA, it will likely still be a few years in the future.

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