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Celebrate 3022 "I Do's" at BRO's Anniversary Reception

Monday, February 28, 2005
One year ago, this month, more than 3,000 same-sex couples married in Oregon. Join us for a celebratory reception!

Event Date: Tuesday, 3/15/2005
Event Time: 5:30-7:30 PM
Keller Auditorium, First Balcony
Suggested Donation: $40 per couple

Check back soon for additional details.

For more information, contact Brenda Kinoshita at 503-222-6151 or email brenda@basicrights.org

Last day to register: 3/15/2005

California Considers Ban On Anti-Gay Political Campaigns

Sunday, February 27, 2005
(San Francisco, California) Legislation has been introduced in the California Assembly to prevent discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) individuals in political campaigns.

If passed it would prohibit the use of any negative appeal based on prejudice against LGBT people by candidates or campaign committees who sign the voluntary pledge provided for in the Code of Fair Campaign Practices.

Currently, existing law establishes a Code of Fair Campaign Practices to which a candidate may voluntarily subscribe and provides a pledge by which the candidate declares that he or she will not use or permit any appeal to negative prejudice based on race, sex, religion, national origin, physical health status, or age.

"In the politically divisive debate over the rights of LGBT people, there are many instances of candidates and campaigns using a negative appeal for support using anti-gay rhetoric," said Speaker pro Tem Yee (D-San Francisco/Daly City) who introduced the measure.

"These negative appeals are potentially dangerous to the LGBT community, and in some campaigns have led to an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, and instances of violence. AB 866 will hopefully put an end to this type of victimization and discrimination against the LGBT community."

Anti-gay rhetoric, which often comes in the form of political hate messages, is directly connected to violence against gay and lesbian individuals, said Equality California, the state's largest LGBT civil rights organization.

Incidents of violence against LGBT people have peaked in national elections years, such as in 2004 during the presidential campaign, in which lesbian and gay issues played an unprecedented role at both the national and local levels, the group noted in a statement. In 2003, when San Francisco became ground zero in the struggle over same-sex marriage rights, incidents of violence rose over 14 percent in the city.

"Civil discourse is the solid foundation of our democracy," said Steve Hansen, EQCA’s Legislative Advocate.

"This legislation puts candidates and campaign committees on notice that using anti-gay rhetoric and campaign tactics is not acceptable."

In 1996, then Assemblymember Shelia Kuehl, introduced nearly identical legislation, which failed in its first hearing in a 3-4 vote.

The Registrar of Voters is required to provide the candidate a blank form on which to subscribe to the Code of Fair Campaign Practices, and a copy of the Elections Code provisions at the time a declaration of candidacy, nomination papers, or any other paper evidencing an intention to be a candidate for public office are issued.

Subscription to the Code of Fair Campaign Practices is voluntary. Completed forms are to be filed with the Registrar of Voters, and are retained for public inspection until 30 days after the election.

by Mary Ellen Peterson 365Gay.com San Francisco Bureau

Gay marriage anniversary around the corner

Saturday, February 26, 2005
Associated Press

It's been just about a year since the Multnomah County Commissioners allowed gay couples to get county marriage licenses.

The practice was halted after six weeks, and has since spawned a constitutional amendment and a lawsuit.

Still, the county commissioners want to celebrate the anniversary.

They are asking same-sex couples to collect their photographs and written memories of their marriages.

The testimonials will be on display in the lobby of the Multnomah Building during March.

Then, the collection will be turned over to the Oregon Historical Society.

The goal is for the collection to be a resource for future generations.

In those six weeks in 2004, Multnomah County issued marriage licenses to 3,022 same-sex couples.

"HOT" Day of Action Workshops You Won't Want to Miss

Friday, February 25, 2005
In addition to lobbying our legislators and rallying to demand basic fairness for all Oregonians on the March 3rd Day of Action, BRO allies and coalition partners will present four not-to-miss workshops:


Building Alliances Across Race
The movement for GLBT rights in Oregon models both the challenges and success of building alliances across race. This 2 hour training/discussion will build on our history and deepen our understanding of the interconnectedness of issues of justice for GLBT and people of color communities. All participants will have the opportunity to learn about and take action on current priority issues for organizations who have stood side by side with GLBT communities during ballot measure fights.
Presenters: Voz Hispana, Rural Organizing Project, (pending confirmation: Oregon Action)
Facilitators: Aeryca Steinbauer, PCUN; Moira Bowman, Western States Center

Out Proud Oregon Candidates
Have you admired people who run for office as openly LGBT candidates? Have you thought about running for office yourself? Four people who have taken this courageous step share their stories and their perspectives, and then answer your questions about their experiences.

Panel:
Rick Brissette, City Councilor, Lincoln City
Karl Rohde, Former City Commissioner and Candidate for State Senate, Lake Oswego
Elli Work, Former Candidate for State Representative, Bend
Facilitator: Alisa Simmons, Chair, Basic Rights Equality PAC

The Faith Response to GLBT Issues
People of faith can be very powerful allies in the struggle for GLBT equality. Many people falsely believe that religion and tolerance are mutually exclusive. The panelists will describe the ways that they are working to respond to this misperception, convey the philosophical basis for supporting GLBT equality, and help the audience understand the broad range of denominations represented.

Panel: Faith Leaders from around the State
Facilitator: Rev. Tara Wilkins, Director, Community of Welcoming Congregations

Transgender Indentities and Issues
An hour long workshop and conversation with members of the Basic Rights Oregon Trans Advocacy Group about gender identity. We will cover the basics—exploring the concept of gender identity with the participants, discussing terminology, proposing ways to be a good ally, and identifying legal protections that exist in Oregon and where they are missing. Panel members represent the diversity of the transgender community and are thoughtful and knowledgeable communicators.

Visit basicrights.org for more information.

Lesbian Teen Banned From High School Yearbook

(Green Cove Springs, Florida) The picture of a lesbian student dressed in a tuxedo will not be permitted in her school's yearbook, the Clay County school officials decided.

Principal Sam Ward of Fleming Island High School made the initial decision to pull Kelli Davis's picture from the yearbook, saying he did so because Davis, who is openly gay, was dressed in boy's clothes.

The county school board and its superintendent backed the decision, which was debated at a School Board meeting attended by about 200 people.

Fifteen of the 24 people who spoke at the meeting were in favor of Davis and nine supported the principal's decision.

Kelli's mother, Cindi Davis, asked the board to reverse Ward's decision.

"This is not to be treated as a gay right's issue," her mother said. "Rather it's a human rights issue."

Some applauded Ward's decision, including Karen Gordon, who said, "When uniformity is compromised, then authority no longer holds."

School officials have maintained that sexual preference is not the issue, it is gender. They said since Davis did not follow the rules on dress, she will not be in the yearbook.

Bruce Bickner, an attorney representing the School Board, said there is no written dress code for senior pictures, but also said the district gives principals the authority to set standards.

The board took no action to reverse Ward's decision and Superintendent David Owens said the decision will stand.

Current Legislation and Basic Rights Oregon's Plans for the future

Thursday, February 24, 2005
On November 2nd, fairness and equality took a major hit in Oregon with the passage of Measure 36. But, the good news is that we are fighting back during the 2005 Legislative Session and working proactively to advance the basic rights of all LGBT Oregonians through the following legislative priorities:

The Oregon Basic Fairness Act (HB 2519)
Download PDF of The Oregon Basic Fairness Act (HB2519)

A statewide non-discrimination bill that would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodation, public services and education on the basis of sexual orientation in Oregon. Sexual orientation is defined as: an individual’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or gender identity, appearance, expression or behavior even if it differs from the individual’s sex at birth.

This bill, if passed, will amend Oregon’s hate crime laws to add the definition of sexual orientation listed above, which is inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Civil Unions for Same-Sex Couples

BRO plans to introduce a comprehensive relationship recognition bill that will extend to same-sex couples all of the benefits, protections and responsibilities typically afforded to opposite-sex couples through the status of marriage. Basic Rights Oregon, in a lawsuit filed against the state last year, has asked the Oregon Supreme Court to order the legislature to create a civil union status. We are currently waiting for a decision in that case. For that reason, this bill has not yet been introduced in the legislature (and therefore has no bill number). It will, however, be introduced following the court decision or at a time when it has been determined to be strategically appropriate.

We are proud of BRO's proactive work this year, but we also know that we remain under attack. First, it was our relationships. Now they are going after our families with a bill designed to limit adoption by gay and lesbian couples.

Introduced by State Representative John Lim, HB 2401 attacks adoption rights for same-sex couples by requiring the state to exercise a preference for heterosexual, married parents over unmarried same-sex or opposite-sex parents.

In order to fend off this attack and demand that our legislators do everything they can to advance equal rights, they must hear from us and they must hear from us now. These attacks will not stop until enough Oregonians say, "ENOUGH!"

We hope you’ll use this action center as a tool to keep up-to-date on the latest developments in the legislature, to educate yourself and your community about these issues and let your representatives in the legislature know that you are paying attention.

Never before has there been such an enormous opportunity to join with fair-minded Oregonians to have our voice heard by Oregon lawmakers. Through the unprecedented efforts of fair-minded Oregonians, we can beat back the attacks on our community and make REAL gains in the movement for equality.

Oregon Anti-Gay Forces Up Attacks on GLBT Rights

Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Emboldened by the passage of Measure 36, anti-gay forces are not backing off their efforts to attack GLBT Oregonians.

New legislation introduced this week exposes another facet of a broader anti-gay agenda. And some of the same backers of Measure 36 are ramping up in unprecedented ways to organize against us.

During the No on 36 campaign, backers of the measure ran the most sweeping anti-gay campaign this country has ever seen. But, passing measure 36 was just the beginning. The Oregon Family Council, the notoriously anti-gay group which helped to launch the "Defense of Marriage Coalition," has - for the first time - hired a lobbyist to advance its anti-gay agenda in the Oregon Legislature.

In addition, a bill was introduced Monday, February 21 that is designed to permanently deny any current or future relationship rights for same-sex couples. Senate bill 799, which is sponsored by Senator George and Representative Sumner, would create Oregon law that bans not only same-sex marriage, but also civil unions, domestic partnerships and any "marriage substitute" that provides benefits and protections generally afforded through marriage. It would also prevent the state from recognizing any same-sex marriage or partnership entered into outside of the State of Oregon.

Anti-gay forces will not stop their relentless, mean-spirited attacks on GLBT Oregonians in the foreseeable future. We can't stop either. It is more important than ever to take action, get involved and ensure that the voices of fair-minded Oregonians overpower the efforts of a vocal anti-gay minority.

Visit Basic Rights Oregon for more information.

Sign up for Basic Writes Weekly...

Monday, February 21, 2005
...the once weekly e-newsletter with all the latest from Basic Rights Oregon. Click here to sign-up.

Register now for BRO's Legislative Day of Action

Sunday, February 20, 2005
Don't miss the opportunity to create change in Oregon this year. This legislative session BRO proudly continues its proactive work to advance the basic rights of all LGBT Oregonians. In commemoration of the one year anniversary of the date that same-sex couples were first married in Oregon, theBasic Rights Oregon DAY OF ACTION will bring 1000 Oregonians from around the state to Salem to lobby for: The Oregon Basic Fairness Act.

Date: Thursday, 3/3/2005
Times: 9AM to 5:30PM

Click here for more info and to register.

New York Court Rules Same-Sex Couples Must Be Allowed To Marry

Monday, February 07, 2005
(New York City) A New York State court ruled Friday that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry.

State Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan said that the New York State Constitution guarantees basic freedoms to lesbian and gay people, and that those rights are violated when same-sex couples are not allowed to marry.

The ruling said the state Constitution requires same-sex couples to have equal access to marriage, and that the couples represented by Lambda Legal must be given marriage licenses.

"This is a historic ruling that delivers the state Constitution's promise of equality to all New Yorkers," said Susan Sommer, Supervising Attorney at Lambda Legal and the lead attorney on the case.

"The court recognized that unless gay people can marry, they are not being treated equally under the law. Same-sex couples need the protections and security marriage provides, and this ruling says they're entitled to get them the same way straight couples do."

Lambda filed the suit last March in Manhattan on behalf of Daniel Hernandez, 46, and Nevin Cohen, 42, a gay couple who have been together for over six years.

The suit argued that denying marriage to same-sex couples violates the state Constitution's guarantee of equality for all New Yorkers.

The case was the first of its kind to be filed in New York since the Massachusetts high court ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to full marriage under that state's Constitution.

When the suit was filed Hernandez said the couple was looking for the same rights as those enjoyed by his parents.

"We're lucky to both have parents who've been happily married for more than 50 years," said Hernandez. "Is it too much to want that for ourselves?

Ultimately, though, the legality of gay marriage in New York is likely to be decided by the Court of Appeal.

Yesterday an Albany court ruled that marriage is not a fundamental right.

Two couples, Elissa Kane and Lynne Lekakis, and Robert Barnes and George Jurgastis, were married last year by a Unitarian Universalist minister in Albany

But when they tried to get marriage licenses from the Albany City Clerk's office they were refused. The four sued Albany and the state Health Department, claiming Domestic Relations Law is gender neutral and marriages without licenses are still legally binding.

On Thursday, Justice E. Michael Kavanagh said state law doesn't specifically bar giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples; it just requires two people to be of age and legally competent.

However, Kavnagh rule, "the statute is replete with other references ... that this was, in fact, the intent that marriage be reserved for couples of the opposite sex."