By Retired Lt. Air Force Col. Linda Campbell

Nancy Lynchild and I had the kind of marriage that people dream of—young people, old people, gay people and straight people. Domestically partnered twice, we tried but failed to marry three times—in San Francisco, Portland, and Washington, D.C. We finally were able to marry in Canada.

Nancy and I flinda_nancy1elt the joy of marriage; we had the love and commitment of marriage. We shared hopes and dreams and healthcare struggles. We were together in sickness and in health. For 17 years we tried very hard to grow old together, until death did us part.

Three years ago, we became the first lesbian or gay couple to ever be approved for burial together at one of our country’s National Cemeteries.

That might never have happened without the help of Brad Avakian. As Oregonians choose our next secretary of state, I wish they could see what Nancy and I saw during our struggle to secure equal burial rights.

At the time, Nancy’s health was deteriorating due to metastatic cancer and the side effects of frequent chemotherapy. During a chance phone call, I told Brad our situation and how despite my 25 years of military service, Nancy, the love of my life, couldn’t be buried with me in a military cemetery, the honor granted to other military spouses. 

“Don’t be so sure,” Brad said.

Brad is a fighter. He poured himself into the effort, spending countless hours combing through the law, working his contacts, and looking for a way to break through one roadblock after another.
It paid off. In early 2013, I received a phone call from Veterans Affairs letting us know that we would become the first same-sex couple ever to receiver a waiver. I fell to the floor and cried, I shook. I almost couldn’t believe it.

There were plenty of moments of doubt, uncertainty or fear that we were simply asking too much of him.

Brad remained undeterred throughout: “Linda, this isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s my job.”

That’s why I’m voting for Brad Avakian for secretary of state. Brad is a friend, champion and tireless advocate.

As a legislator, Brad led the fight for the Equality Act of 2007, including carrying it on the floor of the Senate before its passage. As labor commissioner, he’s worked for strong and fair enforcement, despite blistering push back from those who oppose equal protections for all of us. Time and again, he’s worked to defend Oregonians treated unfairly, no matter what the political pressure.

Brad Avakian has the values and record we need as secretary of state. He’ll work to break down barriers to voting and ensure that everyone has a voice in our democracy.

And Brad’s opponent?

Dennis Richardson isn’t just wrong on equality, his views and record are deeply repugnant. Yes, he voted against the Equality Act and domestic partnerships. But he also compared same-sex relationships to alcoholism and drug addiction. He even spammed hundreds of thousands of Oregonians with a newsletter comparing domestic partnership benefits to the gun violence tragedy at Virginia Tech.

That’s unacceptable.

Brad Avakian stood up for Nancy and me and the civil rights of all Oregonians. That’s why today I’m standing up for him. I’m volunteering, I’m contributing, I’m doing whatever I can to ensure that we elect a champion who shares our values.

I hope that you will join me and vote Brad Avakian for secretary of state.

Watch Linda share her story here