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Morse: Why I support SB 1000

We all bring great depth of convictions to discussions on matters of great public importance. For most of us, we are able to discuss the issues in small groups, at home, at work, and at our churches. For me, as an elected representative in the state Senate, the circumstances are much different.

It would be easy and politically expedient to take the path of least resistance and remain silent. However, I have chosen to take a very public position with respect to the rights of gay persons, as one of four chief co-sponsors of Senate Bill 1000.

My intent through SB 1000 is to focus thoughtful discussion in the Legislature to establish policies that recognize the needs of members of the gay community who wish to legally memorialize committed long-term relationships.

My intent is also to make it quite clear that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not acceptable in any circumstance.

I am aware of the strength of conviction of those who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. I hold this belief as well.

As voters have defined and now the courts have confirmed, the definition of marriage is not in dispute. The question remains, however, "Is there a place in Oregon statutes for persons of the same sex who wish to commit themselves to each other in life-long relationships?"

The purpose of SB 1000 is to answer this question in the crucible of public discourse.

Although it is uncomfortable to be so public with such private convictions, I believe the public has a right to know why I have chosen to sponsor this bill.

My conviction stems from a Christian faith and belief that we must love. It is easy to love those who believe, think, feel, act and look like we do. However, it is often very hard to love those who do not believe, think, act and look like we do.

Love is not passive. It is an act of reaching out to help others. It is inclusive. It accepts people for who they are. It is feeling others' pain and then doing something about it. It is listening and then understanding. It is enduring and unshakable. Love brings quality, fulfillment and purpose to our lives.

For me it then becomes a question of how I should reach out in love to persons with a sexual orientation different than mine. Is there a place for love in the public discourse on gay rights, discrimination, civil unions and reciprocal benefits? Or do we stand in judgment, void of compassion, of those who are different?

I certainly hope and pray that love and compassion will guide our debate and will provide the foundation for the policies of our state.

Frank Morse, a Republican, is serving in his second legislative session as the state senator from District 8, Albany and Corvallis.

Source: The Albany Democrat-Herald

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