All was set for the Oregon domestic partnership law to go into effect on January 1st of 2008. For all intents and purposes, the law which stems from an act seeking to bring states rights fairness to the families consisting of gay and lesbian couples appeared a surefire hit and considering the careful wording of the legislation, it appeared to be protest proof.
Yet as soon as it was signed in May of 2007, the opposition came out in an effort to gather signatures that would force the law to first come before the voters. Spearheaded by the conservative Constitution Party, the goal was to find 55,179 registered voters who would put their names on the list as opposing the legislation and requiring it to be put before the voting public in general.
All seemed to go swimmingly until the Alliance Defense Fund released a statement on 12-03-07 alleging vote tampering by none other than the Oregon county clerks in charge of verifying the collected signatures! A lawsuit has been filed effectively staying the implementation of the law until the voter fraud allegations may be discussed in court in February of 2008.
While the issue of domestic partnership for same sex couples will set off vicious arguments on both sides of the aisle, it is disconcerting that an accusation of governmental entity voter tampering is not receiving more coverage. Sure, while most of the news outlets breaking this story will undoubtedly bring in the Christian angle and attempt to paint those holding up the law as being narrow-minded bigots, the bigger picture is lost.
The fact that government officials are alleged to have been purposefully invalidating properly collected signatures in a possible effort to push through a popular piece of legislation while silencing the unpopular opposition is akin to the hanging Chad and other pieces of voting nightmares that have been making the news in recent years.
At this point in time it is uncertain what the future holds and if the claims are provable, proven, or little more than allegations. A February court date will determine whether a closer look at this dilemma will be taken. And lest you think enough already, just let the legislation pass, it is a sobering reminder that if the tables were turned, the outrage would be palpable and immediate as well as highly documented and would most likely result in pickets on the steps of the county clerk’s office!