The elephants are heading to the beach. At least, they are in Oregon.
I put my mother on an airplane to Portland yesterday morning. She and her friend Ruth are on their way to Seaside to participate in the 50th Dorchester Conference.
For those of you who are not Oregon politics junkies, the name probably means nothing. But the conference has a long and storied history in these parts.
It was organized by then-State Representative Bob Packwood as a response to the 1964 elections where the Republicans took a shellacking. In Oregon, as well as around the country.
The conference was designed to find a way to nominate Republican candidates in Oregon who could win general elections. And it worked. First in legislative races. Then in state-wide races. In 1968 Bob Packwood himself was elected as United States Senator -- replacing one of Oregon's most powerful Democrats, Wayne Morse.
If you have not already read the subtext, the Dorchester Conference was interested in electing Republicans. But the Republicans it was most interested in were liberal Republicans. That was an era where some Oregon Democrats were far more conservative than some Republicans.
Over time, the Dorchester Conference took on a more conservative tone. But, when the chips were down, its roots would show. Especially on issues like abortion.
Well, those roots have shown once again. On the 50th anniversary of the conference, some of the more conservative members of the Republican coalition have decided not to show up at the conference. The details are unimportant. I will simply say they feel as if they have been insulted by the conference organizers.
As a result, even though the conference has no formal relationship with the Oregon Republican Party, three organizations (Oregon Right to Life, the Oregon Family Council,
and Common Sense for Oregon) announced they will not participate in the conference because "the
evidence suggests that this year's Dorchester Conference has turned into a
publicity stunt for liberal social causes rather than a forum for Republican
Instead, they will hold a freedom rally this Saturday in Clackamas -- a suburb of Portland.
That is too bad because all three have voices that should be heard on the three conference discussion issues that have been announced: 1) Actions to Improve the Affordable Care Act; 2) NSA Surveillance vs. Privacy; 3) Same Sex Marriage. Not surprisingly, the issue that has caused the greatest stir is the last one.
The conference's greatest strength is its openness to all points of view. I had considered attending because I wanted to discuss an idea that has been percolating in my little brain over the past year. It combines same sex marriage with the goals of Oregon Right to Life.
My prediction is that the Dorchester Conference will endorse same sex marriage. Whether it does or doesn't, same sex marriage is coming to Oregon -- either through a ballot measure (the preferred method in a democratic republic) or by court order (a method that will cause populist grief).
Taking that as a given, my idea was to combine the Christian grace I have often seen exhibited by Oregon Right to Life with their brilliant political acumen in attempting to save the lives of as many unborn babies as possible. And one of the best methods is to ensure that any baby who is unwanted can have a home where she is wanted -- through adoption.
And that is where my idea comes in. I am not certain what type of educational materials Oregon Right to Life currently distributes. But here is a modest proposal.
Why not distribute a brochure to every couple who marries in Oregon informing them of the adoption services available in the state? Or to place the brochures where families seeking children might read them?
The primary purpose of marriage is to produce children and to provide a safe environment in which to raise them. But not every couple is biologically capable of producing their own children.
That is where adoption comes into play. And without regard to what the sex of the parents may be.
It is time to bury old battles and deal with the world and its complex realities. Maybe it is also time to focus on a primary mission and to not get distracted by those things we cannot change in life.
As I said, it is a modest proposal. But it just may help all of us live better lives with one another.