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We've Moved!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007
From now on, we'll be posting at the new blog at www.basicrights.org. Please join us over there.



Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Amid reports that their efforts to roll back Oregon's new anti-discrimination laws were faltering, anti-gay activists today turned in barely enough signatures to meet the 55,179 minimum required by the Secretary of State to force a referendum on the laws. Because of likely duplications and other errors by signature gatherers, it is too early to tell whether the effort was successful.

"We are encouraged," Hummel said today at the Capitol, where he was joined by supporters of the laws. "In refusing to sign these petitions, Oregonians showed that they aren't interested in rolling back our anti-discrimination laws."

The Oregon Secretary of State has 30 days to determine whether either referendum has qualified. Hummel said Basic Rights Oregon plans to closely monitor the signature verification process to ensure that only valid signatures are counted.

"We will be here in Salem every day to observe the process," Hummel said. "We won't rest until the outcome is known."

Both laws were passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor last May. They are slated to go into effect on January 1, 2008, unless the referenda qualify for the ballot.

One law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations such as restaurants.

The other law creates legal recognition for same-sex couples through domestic partnerships, giving committed couples certain rights and responsibilities, like hospital visitation rights, and the ability to make medical decisions for one another in a crisis.

Hummel said Oregonians know discrimination should be against the law.

"Oregonians know that discrimination is wrong," Hummel said. "They know it should be against the law to fire a good employee just because that person is gay or lesbian. And they know that committed couples should have the legal means to take care of each other, especially in a crisis."

During the legislative session, numerous Oregon businesses, including a coalition of small businesses around the state as well as corporate leaders such as Nike, Qwest and PGE offered strong support for the laws, citing the need for consistent statewide law to build and keep a diverse and talented workforce.

Salem nurse Nancy Frantz-Geddes, who has been in a committed relationship with her partner Peggy for 23 years, is well aware that the legal recognition provided by a domestic partnership is critical in a crisis.

"I want my life partner to make decisions about my care in an emergency," Frantz-Geddes said. "Without Oregon's domestic partnership law, a hospital would not have to honor my wishes. And were she in the hospital, I might not even be allowed to visit her."

Troutdale parent Don Ross said the law will make a difference for his son.

"As parents, we all want our children to be treated fairly," Ross said. "Oregon has done the right thing by making discrimination against the law."

Religious leaders also voiced support for the laws.

"At the heart of both Jewish and Christian traditions is respect for all people as children of God. In like manner, there is a strong prophetic voice for justice and fairness," said the Rev. Gail McDougle, pastor of Salem's First Congregational Church.

Should the referenda qualify, Hummel said he is confident that Oregonians will vote "yes" to uphold the laws in a November, 2008 election.

"Oregonians supported our anti-discrimination laws when they were passed and signed by the governor, they support the laws now, and they will support them next year," Hummel said.


An Urgent Message from BRO Executive Director John Hummel

Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I'm writing today with an update about the efforts by anti-gay groups to force a public vote on our new Basic Fairness laws. I’m also writing with a simple message: We absolutely must not underestimate our opponents.

As you know, opposition groups have pledged to bring both the Oregon Equality Act and the Oregon Family Fairness Act to a public vote on the November 2008 ballot. Last week we asked you to tell us if you've seen these petitions circulating. You responded, and we’ve collected information on petitions circulating all over the state - from Portland to The Dalles, from Salem to Jackson County, at county fairs, outside of malls and post offices, and in places of worship.

Yet today, there was an article in The Oregonian discussing our opposition's "lack of organization" and the possibility that they will not collect enough signatures.

If this turns out to be true, we'll be the first ones celebrating. And then we'll move immediately to the major task of implementing these historic laws.

We are confident that the overwhelming majority of Oregonians believe in basic fairness and want to protect all Oregon families from discrimination, including their GLBT neighbors. However, it simply doesn't take many signatures to get a referendum on the ballot.

And sadly, anti-gay groups in Oregon have proven a proven track record that indicates they can do what is necessary to qualify for the ballot– even using outright deceit and scare tactics to motivate their base.

And while we may become overjoyed with the notion, the worst thing at this moment would be for us to become complacent.

In 2004, for example, many speculated that Measure 36 could have trouble making the ballot. Yet the opposition collected an unprecedented 244,000 signatures (more than four times the signatures needed this year) in just 5 short weeks. Compare that to today, when our opponents still have 7 weeks to collect just 55,179 valid signatures.

Furthermore, a newspaper story like this one often does two things:
1) Motivate our opponents to gather more signatures and
2) Create complacency among supporters of equality.

Don't let that happen! We must be prepared to move forward aggressively with a campaign to protect Oregon's new fairness laws. We have the gift of time to lay the groundwork. Let’s not squander it.

Instead, make today the day to rev up your efforts. Please take at least one (or all!) of the following actions today and spread the word to your families, friends and co-workers.

1.) If you belong to a church or other religious institution, please urge your faith leaders not to be a part of this divisive effort and urge them to support basic fairness for all Oregonians.

2.) Sign the "Pledge to Defend Equality" and send it to 5 friends today. To sign the pledge, please go to http://www.basicfairness.org and to send the pledge to up to 10 friends, go here.

3.) Donate to help Basic Rights Oregon stand up to our opposition and defeat this divisive campaign. To make a contribution to equality, please click here. Your donation of any amount is always very appreciated as we need to raise critical funds to fight these attacks.

In Solidarity,

John Hummel
Executive Director

BREAKING: Wasco County Court Unanimously Votes For Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wasco County Court Unanimously Approves Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

Wasco County answers moral call to treat all it's residents with fairness and dignity--barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

(Portland, Oregon) Today the Wasco County Court voted unanimously to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In doing so, Wasco County becomes the 13th Oregon community to ban discrimination in employment practices, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Today is a proud day for Wasco County,” said Brian Stahl, a resident of The Dalles who was active in the effort to pass the ordinance. “We believe every resident should be given equal opportunity to live, work and thrive, without fearing the sting of discrimination.”

Stahl credits the Court’s unanimous vote to the diverse backing the ordinance received from the community. Those supporting the measure include local PFLAG members (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), Wasco County citizens for Human Dignity, and a large cross-section of faith, community leaders and business leaders – including The Dalles Chamber of Commerce Board, who wrote a letter to the Court endorsing the ordinance.

The Oregon Legislature recently passed a statewide anti-discrimination law. However, the future of that statewide law is still uncertain. Opposition groups are collecting signatures in an attempt to overturn it, as well as Oregon’s new law creating family security through Domestic Partnerships for same-gender couples. Should enough signatures be collected, implementation of both statewide laws would be put on hold until after the November, 2008 Election.

“It’s a shame that some still want to divide Oregonians rather than uniting us. But today’s victory in Wasco County proves that we truly are one Oregon. Whether we live in an urban or rural area, Wasco County or Washington County, we share the common value of fairness,” said John Hummel, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon.

He continued, “Basic Rights Oregon applauds the Wasco County Court for their bold move toward equality for all, and the good people of Wasco County who worked so hard to educate others about the need to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Linda Stahl, who together with her husband Brian is featured in a new statewide project called 50 Voices for Equality at www.50VoicesForEquality.com, summed up the local reaction to the ordinance’s passage: “The people who live here, raise families here, and go to church here simply want our community’s laws to reflect our value of fairness for all.”


Basic Rights Education Fund Launches Statewide Public Education Campaign: 50 Voices for Equality

From Faith Leaders and Elected Officials to Parents and Business Leaders, Fifty Straight Oregonians Speak Out About Fairness for Gays and Lesbians

(Portland, Oregon) Today, Basic Rights Education Fund, the 501(c)(3) arm of Basic Rights Oregon, launched a large-scale statewide education campaign, entitled "50 Voices For Equality." The project highlights 50 diverse community leaders from across the state, showcasing Oregon's broad support for equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Oregonians and their families. Participants in the project are particularly passionate about protecting Oregon's two new basic fairness laws, which create Domestic Partnerships for same-sex couples and banning discrimination in employment, housing public accommodation and other areas.

These 50 heterosexual Oregonians believe that fairness is a basic Oregon value. They believe that our new laws, ending discrimination against both individuals and families based on sexual orientation and gender identity, have made Oregon a fairer place to live and work.

"The 50 Voices for Equality represent the broad cross-section of Oregonians who believe that every Oregon family should be able to realize their hopes and dreams, keep loved ones safe and secure, and live and work free from the sting of discrimination," said John Hummel, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon. "The goal of this campaign is to help Oregonians understand that fairness affects us all. That's why it is critical we stand together and speak out. If our new laws were to be overturned, many families would be shut out from the ability to best care for those they love. That's just not the Oregon way."

The Fifty Voices for Equality website at www.50VoicesForEquality.com features biographies and statements of support for fairness in Oregon, as well as photos of the 50 Voices. Each of the Voices will engage in educational activities in their communities throughout 2007 and 2008. The campaign will include other educational components, to be launched in the coming months in combination with other campaigns.

The voices come from diverse perspectives, and include leading businesspeople, parents and grandparents, faith leaders, elected officials, community activists and public safety officers. Voices are geographically diverse as well, hailing from Bend, Philomath, Otis, Woodburn, Portland, Eugene, Baker City, Salem, Warm Springs, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Lincoln City, Ashland, Corvallis, Troutdale, Lake Oswego, The Dalles, Coos Bay, and Keizer.

Rabbi Maurice Harris of Eugene explains, "The world around us is in such an uncertain, unstable state and there is a huge amount of social anxiety. In times like these people hang on tightly to what they find comfortable and familiar." He continued, "I wish I could find the right words to help the people in our society who feel frightened by equality to stop feeling frightened and see that they have nothing to worry about. If we can find a way to speak gently to those fears, maybe we can find a way to change their minds. This is why I am proud to be a part of the 50 Voices for Equality Campaign."

Keith and Antoinette Edwards were inspired to join the 50 Voices project in order to promote equality for Oregonians like their adult gay son. "Our son is treated differently by two birthrights of which he had no choosing, being Black and being gay. Above all, equality reminds us of our common humanity," says Antoinette. Keith adds, "It means to be respected and treated as an equal - and to treat people with that same respect."

To view a short promotional video about the 50 voices For Equality campaign, please click here.

Eat Oregon! Eat! Eat! Eat!

Thursday, June 21, 2007
Today, Thursday, June 21st, you will have the amazing opportunity to eat out at any of over 70 establishments in Oregon and 15% of the proceeds will go directly to Basic Rights Oregon to help defend Oregon's new basic fairness laws. That's right! Bites for Rights is here! You can eat lunch, dinner or even go to happy hour at one of the over 70 establishments and you will be supporting equality!!

What other day of the year can you order two desserts and not feel guilty afterwards? Below is a list of all the participating establishments across Oregon, if you see an "**" next to it, that means that one or more of the Basic Rights Oregon staff will be there for either dinner or drinks--or both! BRO staffers will be at these selected establishments at around 6pm. Feel free to join us! If you prefer you can go to www.BitesForRights.com for links to the establishments.

SE Portland
Adobe Rose Café, Ben and Jerry's on Hawthorne, The Blue Monk, Crush, Detour Café, Dingo's, DiNicola's Italian Restaurant, Eleni's Estiatorio, Egyptian Club, Floyd's Coffee, Haven Coffee, Il Piatto, Jade Lounge, No Fish! Go Fish!, Pastini Pastaria SE, Ramekin's Café, Redwing Coffee & Baking, Savoy Tavern & Bistro, Starky's, Sub Rosa, 3 Doors Down Café and Lounge, **Wild Abandon Restaurant**/Red Velvet Lounge, Zell's Café

N/NE Portland
Blue Gardenia, Bridges Café and Catering, Café Wonder, Cadillac Café, Chameleon Restaurant and Bar, Chez José East, County Cork & Public House, Echo, Grolla, **Mint/820**, North Star Coffee House, Old Wives Tales, Pastini Pastaria NE, **Russell Street Bar-B-Que**, Vita Café

Dessert Noir Café & Bar, Mingo

SW Portland
Chez José West, Clyde Common, Fish Grotto Seafood Restaurant, Higgins Restaurant and Bar, **Masu Sushi**, Pastini City Center, Red Star Tavern & Roast House, **Scandals**, Three Square Grill, Westcafe

NW Portland
Byways Café, Darcelle XV, Eleni's Philoxenia, **Escape from New York Pizza**, Fox and Hounds, Hobo's Restaurant, Paragon, **Pastini Pastaria NW**, Pepino's Mexican Grill, Uptown Billiards Club

Cascade Baking Company, Coffee House Cafe

Anatolia, **Ring of Fire Restaurant and Catering**, Sweet Life Patisserie

Burst's Candies, Interzone, Wildfire Restaurant

T. Paul's Urban Café

The Grove Restaurant & Lounge

Click here to view the entire list of participating establishments!

Victory in New York: Assembly Passes Marriage Equality Bill

Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, supported by Gov. Eliot Spitzer, was approved 85-61 by the state Assembly Tuesday after an often emotional three-hour debate.

Despite the victory for supporters of the legislation, the bill is not expected to be acted on any time soon in the Republican-led state Senate.

Read the entire story here.

Opponents Aim to Put Gay Rights to Vote

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

That was the headline in today's Oregonian and unfortunately, it's true. Together we won tremendous gains toward equality at the Legislature, and together we can - and will - protect those rights at the ballot. But we cannot do it alone.

The Oregon Family Fairness Act and The Oregon Equality Act together seek to ensure fundamental fairness for all Oregonians and their families, but a vocal minority has taken an extreme pro-discrimination, anti-family stand.

The Constitution Party of Oregon has filed the necessary paperwork to begin gathering signatures to do a referendum on the new Domestic Partnership law (House Bill 2007) AND the comprehensive, statewide Anti-Discrimination law (Senate Bill 2). Both are slated to go into effect on January 1, 2008--but if the signatures are gathered, these bills will not become law until after the November 2008 election…provided voters vote to keep these laws.

The Constitution Party is just one of three known groups who are planning attempts to gather the just over 55,000 signatures needed to put you and your family's livelihood on the 2008 ballot.

What IS certain is that we need your help right now. Basic Rights Oregon MUST finance our operations to ensure that our victories remain victories. Today we call upon you to donate and donate generously. After a victory 34 years in the making, we will not let our anti-family opponents turn back the clock on basic fairness for ALL Oregonians. Click here to contribute now.

Now is the time. Please consider making a donation of $50, $100 or $250 today.

Remember, on the donation page, select the "Basic Measure PAC" to make your contribution to. This way, the money goes where it is needed and you get a $50 political tax credit for 2007 per individual/$100 per couple.

Even before the ink has dried on these two historic bills designed to safeguard Oregonians and their families, an anti-family, pro-discrimination minority has announced their intentions to attack these protections in a campaign that will no doubt be as mean-spirited as this state has seen in many, many years.

To give you an example of what the opponents are saying in regards to the two bills that were signed last week:

"...a clear attempt by the ungodly to deconstruct America's Christian based social order in favor of pagan and heathen immorality, and should be vigorously and diligently opposed."

"No bill in Oregon history will have brought more social disruption, disunity and moral confusion... to individuals who do not approve of these behaviors."

- David Crowe of Restore America in emails to his supporters

Please help Basic Rights Oregon gear up for the difficult and costly fight ahead of us. Click here to contribute today.

Remember, on the donation page, select the ''Basic Measure PAC'' to make your contribution to. This way, the money goes where it is needed and you get a $50 political tax credit for 2007 per individual/$100 per couple.

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BREAKING: Kulongoski Signs Basic Fairness Legislation!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Today marks a landmark victory for Oregonians and their families. Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2007 will become law January 1, 2008.

View our press release here.

HB 2007 Vote Breakdown

Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Voted for HB 2007 and in favor Oregon families:
Brad  Avakian-D
Alan  Bates-D
Kate  Brown-D
Ginny  Burdick-D
Margaret  Carter-D
Peter  Courtney-D
Ryan  Deckert-D
Richard  Devlin-D
Avel  Gordly-I
Betsy  Johnson-D
Rick  Metsger-D
Laurie  Monnes Anderson-D
Rod  Monroe-D
Bill  Morrisette-D
Frank  Morse-R
David  Nelson-R
Floyd  Prozanski-D
Kurt  Schrader-D
Joanne  Verger-D
Vicki  Walker-D
Ben  Westlund-D

Voted Against Oregon Families:
Jason  Atkinson-R
Roger  Beyer-R
Ted  Ferrioli-R
Gary  George-R
Larry  George-R
Jeff  Kruse-R
Bruce  Starr-R
Doug  Whitsett-R
Jackie  Winters-R

LIVE! From the HB 2007 Oregon Senate Vote

Tuesday, May 01, 2007
11:38am HOUSE BILL 2007 PASSES 21-9!!!

11:37am Vote begins.

11:35am When nature calls...

11:35am Here it goes. Oh - looking for a missing Senator.

11:33am ROLL CALL.


11:32am Sen. Burdick has 7:30 left to speak.

11:31amHB 2007 is landmark for all oregonians. With this legislation we say that Oregon values all families. With this legislation we are telling families that they do not need to carry a legal briefcase with them at all times. With this legislation, we are protecting the rights of children is one of their parents were to die".... she keeps going. Same-sex couples will no longer be treated as strangers.

11:30amSen. Burdick seems to be the LAST person to want to speak. Here comes the vote!!

11:29am "Our job today is to determine how big is Oregon's heart" said Morse. "Our job today is to define the heart of Oregon--is it big enough? Is it big enough?"

11:29am PLEASE EXCUSE SPELLING ERRORS :) I am typing as fast as I can and I know there are typos.

11:28amMorse now reads a letter from a constituent.

11:27am Sen. Frank Morse now speaks. Speaks of last session and calls it a lonely journey, calls today another day and an opp. to do something right for Oregon"

11:26amSen. Westlund passionately supports the bill.

11:23amSen. Westlund says, "Finally the legislature has the political will and courage to pass this legislation" He recognized the 3 other sponsors of SB1000 last session. He was one of the four.

"I am so proud to be standing in this chamber... to be afforded the right of the dignity of their humanness. It is that simple, that important and that profound. To be afforded the right to their humanness".

11:21am Sen. Alan Bates now speaks. He was a sponsor on SB 1000.

11:17am Sen. Vicki Walker now speaks.

  • "Today's vote is of historic significance"
  • "This is not full equality"
  • "This is a bittersweet vote"
  • "Couples will still be denied over 1100 benefits at the federal level"
  • "Unlike marriage the benefits in HB 2007 are only valid within Oregon. If they travel to any other state, they take none of the protections and responsibilities"
  • "Strangers under the law outside the borders of Oregon"
  • "It is shameful that we must in the name of equality setup a law in the name of inequality"
  • "This bill makes some Oregonians 'less than'"

    Sen. Walker now talks about how she had to exit the committee because of how awful the testimony was. How "ugly it was".
  • "This bill today is the right thing to do because it is a significant step forward"
  • "I pledge to my constituents and to all Oregonians that I will continue to advocate for full equality under the law. I urge an Aye vote on HB 2007"

    11:15am Sen. Beyer protests the bill and says that he is not voting for the bill because it effects 274 statues. Sadly, that is not why he is going to vote no. Based on prior comments from the Senator it comes down to him being anti-gay. He voted no in 2005 on Senate Bill 1000, voted no on anti-discrimination legislation (Senate Bill 2), voted no this session in Committee and will again vote no on this bill.

    11:13am Beyer has asked Sen. Brown about 4 questions so far. Sen. Brown stays firm, yet calm.

    11:12am Beyer asks about the fiscal impact. Brown says section 9 directly addresses the rights and responsibilities in this bill.

    11:10amSen. Beyer now speaks. Questioning Section 9 of the bill. Asking what exactly what statutes, administrative rules and "court rulings" that would be changed by this bill.

    11:09amKate Brown now reads a letter from a couple. A couple that has gone through extensive health issues with one of the partners. While sitting at the bedside of her longtime partner, with the advanced directive in her hands. The nurse told her that her partner "was sick because of sins against God." The nurse tried to make her leave the bedside of her longtime partner.

    11:04amBTW- HB 2007 is being carried by Sen. Kate Brown and Sen. Ginny Burdick.

    11:02am Discussing how it DOES NOT change current Oregon state marriage statutes. But does vital basic rights such as: bereavement or sick leave to care for a partner or a partner's child; choose a final resting place for a deceased partner; transfer property and assets from a deceased partner to his or her surviving partner if the deceased had no valid will; obtain joint health, home and auto insurance policies; enter joint rental agreements; get an equitable division of property in a partnership dissolution or annulment; file joint state tax returns; receive a death benefit under state worker's compensation laws; the responsibility to pay court-ordered child or spousal support after a partnership is dissolved.

    11:02am She's currently providing an overview of House Bill 2007.

    11:01am Sen. Kate Brown opens up the debate.

    10:59am They're back. Senate President asks everyone to respect the rules of the Senate.

    BACK IN 15 Mins.

    10:35am: Here we go. HB 2007 debate begins. Sen. Majority Leader Kate Brown begins. Then calls for caucus. Recess until 10:55. 15 minutes.

    10:32am: Ben Westlund just walked by me and tapped my head saying "get to work". Love Ben Westlund, though shouldn't he be on the floor? He looks great though. Looking very fit these days. Go Ben!

    10:31am: Remonstrances. Joanne Verger speaks.

    10:28am: "Governor Barbara Robert is here today to make sure that we do our work well", says Sen. Rod Monroe.

    10:27am: They are now extending courtesies to honorary pages.

    10:24am: Invocation and Prayer.

    10:22am: Pledge.

    10:19am: Flags in ready position for 'posting of the colors'.

    10:16am: Senators are beginning to trickle in onto the floor. Must have been a late night out.

    10:15am: Roll call begins. No Senators on floor.