Lets not get distracted by the process argument

MY VIEW • Are others, including same-sex marriage proponents, helping opponents by ignoring the central issue?

First, let me chastise the media. On Feb. 25, Colin Fogarty of Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that Multnomah County was examining the issue of same-sex marriage licenses. No other news outlet bothered to pick up the story and let their readers/viewers/listeners know about it.

So for the media, at least, to be joining in on the process-bashing now is at the very least rank hypocrisy and a pile of bull. They should be ethically and professionally ashamed of themselves for it.

That said, we can move on to the concerns some have raised about the process through which Multnomah County reached the historic moment in which it now finds itself.

Even supporters of same-sex marriage have charged that members of the county commission wrongfully sneaked around behind the back of Commissioner Lonnie Roberts, violating (they say) the spirit, if not the letter, of Oregon's open meetings law.

If that were the case (and I don't believe it is), the board regularly violates the spirit of that law, since it's already been pointed out that the commissioners routinely work on various items only with those on the board that support them. Reportedly, Roberts himself has done it too, so for him to be a crybaby now É well, that's also rank hypocrisy.

Others have raised the hypothetical situation in which the commissioners used this same process to outlaw same-sex marriage.

Well, hold on a minute so we can get the facts straight: The county in effect had already 'outlawed' gay marriage by having a policy of refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

What happened here is that County Attorney Agnes Sowle determined that the county was violating the Oregon Constitution by this policy, so Chairwoman Diane Linn Ñ heeding the analysis of the attorney, and entirely within her administrative discretion Ñ told the county clerk to change the policy to comply with the attorney's view of the constitutional issues.

Had the county attorney instead determined that the existing policy of refusing same-sex marriage licenses was kosher, the board simply would have had to do nothing at all to 'outlaw' gay marriage.

As Portland city Commissioner Randy Leonard has said, 'This is not a time for those of us who believe that it is about damned time that gay marriages be allowed, to distance ourselves from those on the county commission who did the right thing É even though it may have hurt the feelings of some in the process.'

Frankly, I'm a little bit ashamed of everyone who is unintentionally doing the work of the opponents of same-sex marriage by joining them on the process direction.

Now, don't take that in an Attorney General John Ashcroft 'You're giving aid and comfort' sort of way. I'm perfectly willing to have people make this process argument, and then have to rise to the occasion of refuting their argument.

I'm not saying that no one should ever have brought it up or considered it. However, I may be saying that I wish they'd settle down now that we've had time to hash it out and show it up for what it really is Ñ which is what I'm about to do.

Others have been saying they're concerned that the process by which this was done will do more harm than good for gay marriage in Oregon. In reality, to my mind, it's actually the bogus fixation on the process question that gives energy to the opposition.

Commissioner Lonnie Roberts is a perfect example of why I'm irked that so many supporters of same-sex marriage are jumping onto the process-bashing bandwagon. What Roberts is doing is cynically using people's mistrust of government to hammer away at the process issue, because he knows that he'll find more political support for his efforts on that than he would if he was trying to rally people to join him in his prejudices.

It's sickening. And it makes me ache that so many same-sex marriage supporters are helping him out.

Pursuing this process question is a conscious and intentional tactical decision by opponents of same-sex marriage because they know they can stoke those flames and get support.

Or, if not support, at least they can get politically cynical people to sit around publicly bemoaning alleged process irregularities, thereby helping to distract from the real mission of the Defense of Marriage Coalition and its medievally minded ilk Ñ which is, of course, to deny homosexual couples their fundamental civil rights.

Christopher Frankonis is a writer and Web site publisher for Portland Communique (www.communique-.portland.or.us). He attended State University of New York-Purchase; he lives in Southeast Portland.