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Roey on the Road: What The Dalles is Doing for GLBT Equality

Monday, November 21, 2005
As many of you already know, along with Basic Rights Oregon staff, I am hitting Oregon highways in November and December, visiting communities across Oregon to talk about how we can work together to make Oregon a State of Equality! Based of feedback from activists and supporters of equality across Oregon, Basic Rights Oregon has developed a three-year campaign to build political power and achieve lasting wins for GLBT fairness and equality. Our next step is to go community by community and talk about how to put that plan in to action. With the first of these meeting already complete, our work is already off to an exciting and promising beginning. Throughout these trips I’ll be blogging to keep you up to date about what is happening around the state and to encourage discussion and conversation about this new phase in our movement.

Thursday afternoon, Jessica Keskitalo (BRO’s senior organizer) and I climbed into my car and headed to The Dalles for the first stop on the “Roey on the Road” statewide tour. It was just wonderful. We had dinner with a group of ten dedicated activists, including Linda and Brian from the Wasco County PFLAG, and Trisha from Wasco County Human Dignity Coalition.

After dinner, we headed over to a meeting with 18 people. The group was a mix of some experienced activists and some people who are new to this work, although half of the people there had traveled all the way to Salem to lobby their state representatives during the legislative session! The Dalles is a unique place in Oregon because while many communities have to strategize to figure out how to reach opinion leaders in their communities, in The Dalles those people were at our meeting. The group included a school board member, staff of the city and a state legislator, and someone involved with the local Chamber of Commerce. It was heartening to see people who are so engaged in their town take the time to find out how to make The Dalles a better place for GLBT people and their families.

Conversation was lively and we even got into a debate about the level of discrimination against GLBT people in The Dalles. Several people explained that the reason that discrimination might be invisible to many and easy to ignore was because GLBT people don’t feel safe coming out. Therefore, people don’t even know that they work and worship with gay and transgendered people and that they know us and our friends and families. It can even be a challenge for GLBT people to find each other and the local PFLAG plays an important role in bringing people together.

One highlight for me was a conversation with Jim, a farmer from Parkdale whose daughter is a lesbian. He is involved with the local PFLAG and listening to what he had to say was so special for me because he loves his daughter—and all his children—so much and his perspective as a parent comes straight from the heart. Jim and his wife both are involved because they want their daughter to have the same opportunities in life as anyone else, and they don’t want her harmed by discrimination and hate. There are people like Jim all across Oregon—good people who just want the best for their families.

The group discussed ways to reach community leaders, particularly in the business community, to encourage them to support GLBT equality. Future plans include further exploring an event for business leaders to learn about the issues, whether or not to pursue a local anti-discrimination legislation and BRO-provided training and support for leaders and for community activities. We look forward to more visits to The Dalles and to more collaboration with these fine people.

Our next trips are to Medford on Dec. 1 and Eugene on Dec. 5. In between, I’m heading to Seattle to share what we’ve learned from our ballot measure campaigns with immigrant rights activists in Seattle. Attend one of these meetings if you can or other upcoming meetings where you live check dates here! Want to help organize a meeting where you live? Call or email Jessica at 503-222-6151 or jessica@basicrights.org.

Re-elect Diane Linn: by Barbara Roberts, Terry Bean and Roey Thorpe

Thursday, November 17, 2005
Multnomah County chair passes the true test of leadership.

From every corner of the country, gay rights advocates and those who would deny equal rights to the GLBT community are going to be watching an important race in Oregon next year. As chair of Multnomah County, Diane Linn has become a target for those who oppose GLBT rights, and we are hoping that all of us who care passionately about equality will stand up and support her, as she had done for this community.

It is a rare honor to endorse a candidate who has so courageously demonstrated a commitment to equality and put those values into real action. All three of us—Gov. Barbara Roberts, Terry Bean and Roey Thorpe (on behalf of Basic Rights Oregon)—are proud to announce our endorsement of Diane Linn for Multnomah County chair. Diane has our support because we believe no one is better prepared and qualified to lead Multnomah County forward.

Serving in public office is not easy during the best of times; the true test of leadership is when times get tough and hard choices have to be made. We have observed Diane's performance as Multnomah County chair, and we strongly believe she has produced results and made significant improvements for county government and our citizens during her time in office.

Diane not only takes the right stand on all the important progressive issues, she takes action as well. She has always made it clear that she believes Multnomah County is a place for all citizens and has embraced the GLBT community in all of her work. During her first term as chair, the county added a nondiscrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

When same-sex couples in the community demanded to be treated equally under the protection of the Oregon Constitution, Diane had the vision and commitment to allow them to marry. In doing so, she forever changed the lives of Oregon same-sex couples and their families for the better and helped to move the cause of fairness for all Oregonians immeasurably toward justice. Some have said this move was too bold and too risky, but we don't think so.

The criticism she received for this decision was harsh and unrelenting, and it continues to this day. Yet even in the face of vitriol that included threats on her life, she has continued to speak out proudly for full equality for GLBT people. If this isn't leadership, we just don't know what is.

Diane's administration has also taken the lead when it comes to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, offering cutting-edge delivery of primary care medical services to people with HIV and AIDS. The county has reinvigorated its HIV prevention efforts, targeting people with the highest risk of infection. It has worked closely with human service agencies to increase prevention efforts for sexual minority youth. Because of this, HIV infection rates in Multnomah County continue to be lower per capita than the national average.

Diane said recently: "It is important to me for all Multnomah County residents to be treated equally under the law. I will continue to provide leadership that shows real results for every Multnomah County family." With Diane Linn in leadership, there will never be a question about whether this includes GLBT families or people living with HIV/AIDS.

Diane Linn has delivered on her promises. She has certainly taken the heat for tough decisions and still is willing to serve. As people who care about equal rights and who have been involved in electoral politics for many years, we believe that people who stand up for equality deserve to have the community stand up for them in return. If we don't stand up for Diane, how can we assure other elected leaders that we will be there when the going gets rough for them? As Elizabeth Birch, former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, said recently about this race: "I hope all Oregonians understand how incredibly important re-electing Diane Linn is, not just to the future of GLBT rights in Oregon, but to the entire nation. Around the country, people will be watching to see if we support those who put their political careers on the line to support us."

We urge you to join us in your vocal, proud support of Diane Linn. She deserves it. She has earned it. There are no challengers who would stand more strongly for equality than our current chair, Diane Linn.

-Barbara Roberts served as governor of Oregon from 1991 to 1995.
-Terry Bean co-founded the Human Rights Campaign in 1980.
-Roey Thorpe is executive director of Basic Rights Oregon.

via: Just Out

Why BRO's Vote is Going to Diane Linn (and why yours should too!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Basic Rights Oregon's Equality PAC made its first endorsement of the season a couple of weeks ago urging Multnomah County Residents to reelect Diane Linn to County Chair.

Now hear from BRO Executive Director Roey Thorpe, Governor Barbara Roberts and Human Rights Campaign Founder and national gay rights leader Terry Bean about why this race has implications, not just in Multnomah County, but for the GLBT movement nationwide.

Click here to read more in this week's edition of Just Out!

A Message From BRO Executive Director Roey Thorpe

Friday, November 04, 2005
Dear Friends,

By now, many of you have heard the disappointing news that, today, an Marion County Circuit Court Judge upheld Measure 36.

Like all of you, we are deeply disappointed by this decision. We continue to believe that Measure 36 was too radical a change to the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Oregon Constitution to simply be considered an amendment.

We believe that the Oregon Constitution guarantees basic civil rights to every Oregonian, and that the protections that families need and deserve ought to be granted regardless of whether a couple is gay or straight.

Measure 36 substantially revised the Oregon Constitution by requiring that the state deny gays and lesbians a fundamental right most Oregonians take for granted—the right to marry the person of their choice.

The Judge in this case concluded that his ability to find in our favor was constrained by Oregon Court of Appeals and Oregon Supreme Court precedent. While we respect his evaluation, we disagree with his conclusion. We look forward to a hearing before the Oregon Court of Appeals where we will have the opportunity to ask the court to take a different view.

Today's ruling is the first step in a long process. When we filed this lawsuit, we knew that no matter the outcome of today's ruling, the case would be appealed to a higher court. That is our plan now.

This case is, of course, about what we believe is the illegal passage of Measure 36. But amidst this legal wrangling, we will continue to remind Oregonians that it is about far more than that for same-sex couples and their families.

The truth is that every day that Measure 36 is in effect, real people -- real families -- suffer. Gay and lesbian people are not second class citizens and should not be treated as such, and their children deserve the full protections of having married parents.

And this case is important for every Oregonian, because civil rights ought not to be a matter of popularity or put up for a public vote. No minority group should live in fear that one day they might find their basic rights under attack by those who seek to deny them their full humanity and legal equality.

Basic Rights Oregon will continue to stand for full legal equality, and will not give up until we have achieved that goal, no matter how much work it takes.

--Roey Thorpe

BREAKING NEWS: Circuit Court Upholds Measure 36

Marion County Court released its decision this morning in Basic Rights Oregon's legal challenge to Measure 36. Our attorneys are analyzing the opinion. Read the opinion below.

More information to follow later today.

MEASURE 36 DECISION

BREAKING: Measure 36 Ruling Tomorrow

Thursday, November 03, 2005
BREAKING NEWS!!! Circuit court decision in BRO's legal Challenge to Measure 36 will be realeased Friday, November 4 at 1PM. Check the BRO website Friday for up-to-the minute news!

For Background on the Case: Click here
What to Expect?: Click here