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Roey's Election Night Speech

"I know this is a hard night for all of us.

This has been an amazing year of highs and lows, victories and defeats.

Many of us felt the joy of marrying our long-time partners this year. And now we know the pain of having the right to that marriage put to a public vote.

But let me tell you, this is not the way to decide social policy - - the Constitution was designed exactly for the purpose of preventing the rights of a minority from being determined by the whims of a majority.

The very notion that our Constitution can be changed to deny rights to a minority with a vote of a simple majority of those who turn out is ludicrous. We have higher standards for passing a school bond levy.

No matter what our opponents say, this is not a mandate on the rights of gay and lesbian people.

Polls show that 80% of Oregonians support protecting gays and lesbians. But in this short campaign cycle, Oregonians didn’t have time to fully digest the true consequences of this amendment and how it will hurt gays and lesbians and our families.

We will not give up.

Many states lost tonight far worse than we did. To come as close as we did is certainly a moral victory.

But this loss is harder on us in Oregon. In part, it's harder because after defeating three statewide ballot measures, we know what it feels like to win.

But it's also harder for us because we know more than any other state that faced this amendment this year WHAT WE ARE BEING DENIED.

So many of us have made huge sacrifices for the right to be equal and the right to have our relationships recognized, or to help others take their rightful place in our state.

And we aren't going to let tonight’s defeat stop us.

Here's what I know: you don’t get civil rights by sitting around waiting for them to fall in your lap. You don't get them without sacrifice and risk and pain. We are paying that price now. This is a painful setback. But on the road to equality and freedom, there are always setbacks. There are always sacrifices. There are always moments that seem like they are too much to bear, and times when we give so much of ourselves that it seems too unbelievably cruel when we don’t prevail.

This is one of those times. But I want you to look around you, at the good people who are in this room, and I want us to think about all the people of this state who have stood with us. And I want you to think of the many, many people who have changed their minds because of our work on this campaign. All of those who were able to question their assumptions, to open their hearts, to walk in someone else''s shoes.

If we say now that it's just too hard to keep fighting, then we are turning our backs on all of those victories. We can't do that.

This campaign has been a learning experience for all of us, and for all Oregonians as well. We may not have gotten a majority tonight, but all the momentum on this issue is going our way.

Because of our work, social attitudes on same-sex marriage are shifting daily. I have no doubt that if this election were held a week from now that we would have won.

Look how far we've come. A year ago, how many of us would have dreamed that same sex couples would marry in our lifetimes? How many of us would have thought that Oregon would be ground zero for this issue? Have no fear—our children will find the idea of banning same-sex marriage as inconceivable as the idea of banning inter-racial or inter-faith marriage.

We will remember this moment, because it will be impossible to forget the pain of this loss.

But we have to dust ourselves off and get back on our path. There will be future victories and there will be future defeats. But our victories will always outnumber the defeats, because we are on the side of true love. The true love we feel for our same sex partners, the true love we feel for our family and friends who deserve the right to marry, the true love we feel for this state and this country, both of which have always stood for freedom and equality. True love cannot be defeated, and although we may not have won at the polls tonight, we know that the love that we have shown throughout our entire campaign has changed this state.

Tonight, let’s celebrate what we’ve accomplished, and let’s support each other in this painful moment. And tomorrow, we'll get back out there and continue this fight, in the courts, in the legislature, and everywhere we need to be. Let's stick together and see this through until we win, for all of us, and because we believe in Oregon. Thank you."

-Roey Thorpe

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