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Bush Calls Press Conference on So-Called "Marriage Protection", What You Can Do.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006
In a column for the conservative magazine, The Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes broke the news that President Bush has decided to bow to the weeks of demands from the right-wing extremist groups and hold a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House to reiterate his support of the Federal Marriage Amendment. According to Barnes, the Rose Garden press conference is scheduled for Monday, June 5, a day before the Senate is expected to vote down the Constitutional amendment.

You may remember Laura Bush speaking out on how the right-wing extremists should not be using this as a campaign tool for Republicans. She has also denounced need for a discriminatory constitutional amendment. Though to no surprise--they are using it. Given the stakes at hand, prominent Republicans won't get in the way of a good wedge issue that has worked for them in the past.

The press conference, which will be attended by strong supporters of the Constitutional Amendment, as well as right-wing legislators will be held in the Rose Garden at The White House.

Joe Solmonese of HRC made a statement regarding the use of this location. "Rose Garden addresses have historically been reserved for occasions of unity and justice. Unfortunately, President Bush will break with history and use the Rose Garden as a backdrop to promote discrimination against a group of Americans. The President should stop playing politics with our Constitution and use his speech as an opportunity to lay out an agenda to fix what's really wrong in America."

Solmonese continued, "It's a national disgrace that President Bush has yet again bowed to the far-right extremists. Instead of addressing the real challenges facing American families--from record high gas prices, bankrupting health care costs and an endless and costly war in Iraq--the President will further divide this country and put the far-right extremist's interests ahead of the American people's well-being."

We ask you to take action via HRC. Tell your elected officials that we will not stand for this.

Here are two ways to help at the national level via HRC.

Send a postcard. When you fill out the form, a postcard with your name and address will automatically print out at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters. The HRC staff and volunteers will hand-deliver each postcard to congressional offices on June 5 - the week of the Senate vote. Click here to sign it.

If you make a donation to HRC to help fight this expensive battle, your gift will be matched by an HRC Board Member. Click here to learn more.

Bryan Boyd, BRO Communications Coordinator

STRUT: Fashion. Music. Dance.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Kevin Cook (aka Poison Waters) emcee's STRUT, a fashion show at the Wonder Ballroom on June 7 that benefits Basic Rights Oregon.

STRUT marks the debut of Jonny Shultz' full line for women. Designing for years, in the past he'd focused on handbags and has been selling pieces from his women's apparel line in YES (811 E Burnside) more recently. We'll also see collections by Vancouver-based Diego (men's and women's apparel), Wendy Martin's women's line (silk print dresses and skirts) Wema, Magali Corzo's eponymous line of romantic dresses, Alice Dobson's Sofada (she showed at the Fall 06 NY Fashion Week this spring), and Keri Robert's (co-owner of Dragonlily) line Ipseity.

As if the clothes and the models of Q6 Model & Artist Management weren't enough entertainment for you, Kaosmosis, Sophe Lux, DJ Stay In School, and Barrett Paul will round out the night.

A 30-second Flasback

Friday, May 26, 2006
Video: July 20, 2005 at the Oregon State Capitol. A rally for SB1000 as Roey Thorpe delivers a message to the crowd.

BRO's Roey Thorpe Steps Down, Steps Up to National Leadership

Dear Friends,

Over the past few years, Basic Rights Oregon has experienced so many changes: we're stronger, more influential, and more respected than ever before. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have had the opportunity to lead BRO during such a time in the history of this organization and at a time when the LGBT civil rights movement is so dynamic. And now, after five amazing years, I have the opportunity to move to a new position at the national level of our movement. This feels exciting even though it is very hard to leave this position that has been so personally fulfilling.

At the end of June, I will be leaving BRO to become the Program Director for Freedom To Marry, which is a GLBT and non-GLBT partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide. In many ways, I'll be continuing the work I've done here at BRO, helping state and local organizations build capacity and work together for a very important cause.

Some of you may wonder, why now? Is there a reason you are leaving at this moment in time? For over two years, the director of Freedom To Marry, Evan Wolfson, and I have talked about me joining their team, and the time now seems right because BRO as an organization is stronger than ever and because my experience at BRO is useful at the national level. I have learned so much from the past five years about working with coalition partners, collaborating with national organizations, and the challenges of leading a statewide LGBT rights organization. And that knowledge has never been more important, since state organizations are now at the forefront of our movement, and collaboration has never been more important than it is now. This is a chance to bring what I have learned to our national movement for marriage equality, and to work with states that can only dream of having the grassroots support and capacity that we have here.

One of the things I'm most excited about is that I will be able to continue to live and work right here in Portland. This means that I will be close by to help BRO to maintain the highest level of continuity possible. I anticipate that the transition will be a smooth one, since fantastic people have already stepped up to help. Frank Dixon, a long time BRO board member and LGBT community leader, will be leading BRO until a new executive director starts. Jim Morris, chair of the BRO board, has generously donated the services of the MBL Group, his company, to do a national search for a new director. The board has formed a search committee, which has begun meeting. And the BRO staff, which is the strongest team of people I have ever had the honor to work with, are well poised to carry out our statewide action plan and continue to build our political strength.

And then there's all of you. When I think of the thousands of people who have made this organization nationally respected and politically powerful, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. The courage, tenacity, and dedication that you bring to our movement has taught me important lessons, lifted my heart when I felt most discouraged, and inspired my vision of a society built on justice, equality, and kindness. You have made me feel appreciated and yet never failed to challenge my assumptions, and I am grateful. This isn't goodbye, because I'll still be standing side by side with you in this movement right here in Oregon, and I'll still be one of BRO's most staunch supporters. It's just the opening of a new chapter, for me and for this organization, and I look forward to the future for both of us.


Want to know more? Check out this morning's The Oregonian or read our media release.

Lon Mabon Comes Out of the Closet With Another Anti-GLBT Ballot Initiative

Thursday, May 18, 2006

First the short of it. Lon Mabon is back and swinging. He has filed an initiative nearly the same as 2000's Measure 9. This time he takes it a step further by including transgender people--an inclusion that likely means they will lead the campaign with a brutal and nasty anti-trans message.

Now the additional details.
Freshly out of jail, Lon Mabon, is bringing his dirty politics to Oregon's forefront again. 2000's Measure 9 is back. Initiating yet another anti-GLBT constitutional amendment, Mabon is seeking to fight the "gay agenda" with his own shady overtly extremist agenda: a constitutional amendment stating, "the behaviors of homosexuality and bisexuality pose a serious health risk to Oregon's students "therefore "it is hereby established that sexual orientation shall not be taught in Oregon public schools in any manner or whatsoever that would express approval of, endorse or otherwise make morally acceptable the behaviors of homosexuality, bisexuality or transgendered conduct." And note, that this measure is not specific to elementary or secondary education, but also would affect higher education in Oregon.

Mabon has also introduced a second measure designed to create a protective umbrella over hate-speech for homophobes and making schools and public institutions unsafe for the GLBT community. He asserts that freedom of speech should be defended even against hate-crime laws--creating what could be called the "no promo-homo" policy in public schools, all the way through college education.

Mabon himself is a fraud and a widely reviled figure, but that hasn't stopped him from relentlessly pursuing the "Mabon agenda"--an oppressive war on the GLBT population. But just because he is a disgusting, disreputable figure we shouldn't be lulled into the idea that this measure can't get on the ballot. Too many of us believed Measure 36 would never get on the ballot. Too many of us believed even after it did that the measure wouldn't pass. We can't believe that now. (And, if that doesn't concern you, check out the previous post about our opponents' extraordinary fundraising over the last year.)

Mabon has filed both measures for 2008, giving him plenty of time to collect signatures (a little over 75k needed) and his timing is also in line with the '08 presidential election.

I will again remind you that this initiative he has filed is a Constitutional Amendment (like Measure 36). This is just another blatant attempt to write hateful and discriminatory policies into the Oregon Constitution, and one that regardless of the source ought to be taken seriously. Oregon cannot and will not stand for this.

-Bryan Boyd, BRO Communications

Discussion welcomed and encouraged.

BREAKING: Oregon Anti-Gay Groups Build Financial War Chest

Bad news. Basic Rights Oregon has learned that the Oregon Family Council PAC (view report here) and the Defense of Marriage Coalition PAC (view report here) (the backers behind 2004's Measure 36) are busy building an extraordinary war chest-having collectively raised more than one million dollars since the 2004 election.

ONE MILLION DOLLARS. To some, this may seem like a paltry sum when Dick Cheney receives twice that amount as a tax refund, but in the world of grassroots politics, a million dollars wins a lot of elections. For comparison, the Basic Rights Oregon PACs have raised between $40-50 thousand dollars in that same amount of time (a marked increase in our past fundraising, mind you). Another noteworthy fact, there are on average 13 thousand Oregonians who have contributed financially during both the No on (and No on 36 campaigns, who after those campaigns disappeared and have not given again, whereas our opponents supporters appear to be continuing to contribute to those organizations on a monthly basis long after the campaigns are over.

This should scare you and any one who cares about equality in Oregon. Why? Because this money was raised at a time when those organizations had no pending ballot measure or critical legislation, when they were waging no particular campaign at all. If they can raise that kind of money now, imagine what they can do with another measure on the ballot or a piece of anti-GBLT legislation on the table.

What might they be planning with this kind of cash to throw around? A ban on civil unions? A ban on adoption? Revisiting past anti-GLBT ballot measures? The truth is we don't know. But we do know that is enough seed money to put nearly ANYTHING on the ballot or elect nearly any candidate (Karen Minnis?) and have a good chance at winning.

Our only option is to fight fire with fire. Before the next attack begins, we need to be ready with at least the same resources-or more. Remember Lon Mabon's 2000 Ballot Measure 9? We defeated that measure by only a few points, but we did it outspending them 10-1. During the Measure 36 fight our opponents matched us dollar for dollar and none of us can deny that that had a tremendous impact on the outcome of the race.

There is hope for getting our candidates elected, getting our issues discussed, and getting our legislation passed. But we won't win unless we are fighting with all the resources we can gather and that we start preparing for the battle now.


Where's your voice Oregon? Have you lost it?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Judging by the primaries voter turnout, you have no voice. Get those ballots in! Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 16th, is the last day to get those ballots in. It is TOO LATE TO MAIL THEM.

In 2004, over 3,000 gay couples were married in Multnomah County. 2005 showed overwhelming disappointment with the defeat of SB1000 and a rallying cry to every newspaper in Oregon for basic rights-fairness and equality for everyone.

And here's the chance to do something for those strangled voices in years past: get out and vote. Yet, despite having key legislative races on this year's ballot, only a small percent of our target voters have cast their ballot... what are you waiting for? Check out the voter turnout so far - click here.

For those of you in target areas where Diane Linn and Tina Kotek are fighting to keep issues affecting the GLBT community upfront in our government, march to one of these drop boxes and make an important contribution to equal rights for all. If you aren't in a district with a contested primary, statewide offices such as Governor Ted Kulongoski, Supreme Court Judge Virginia Linder and Superintendent Susan Castillo are key races that need our attention. I cannot stress the importance of making sure we have a voice in the next major legislative session. Check out your county web site for convenient drop-off locations near you--or simply use the links below.

Your most important contribution to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Oregon, is to cast a vote electing fair-minded officials. Now is the time to find your voice and VOTE.

Drop off Locations:

  • Statewide Drop Off locations

    We also encourage you to utilize Vote Equality, Oregon's first-ever online voter guide for candidates of equality. Click here to visit Vote Equality.

    Vote Smart. Vote OUT. Vote Equality.

  • More Minnis Mayhem: Is there a fight to take her down from within?

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    By now we all know about the high profile campaign to oust House Speaker Karen Minnis from her elected position in House District 49. Democratic challenger Rob Brading is running a strong campaign and a number of organizations have joined forces to force her out of office.

    But now it appears that there may even be a coup from within, if you believe this week's Willamette Week.

    According to an editorial in Willamette Week Wednesday, Minnis' mayhem, capable of shutting down SB 1000 in the House last year, has drawn the ire of her fellow Republicans-many of whom feel her underhanded dealings benefit her above all else.

    So, let's get this straight, Minnis refuses to listen to Democrats and Republicans, both of which have felt silenced and ignored.

    But is she taking this concern seriously? No. According to Willamette Week, she's as indignant about the criticism from within as she was cavalier about killing Senate Bill 1000 with no debate or vote. Minnis essentially told Willamette Week, this is all a small temper tantrum and after some pouting and whining, everyone will forget and forgive:

    "It's easy for members to spout off,' she says. 'And after some time and distance, they're fine."

    As for the notion that a handful are upset enough either to challenge her or support a challenge, she says she's unaware of such talk.

    Out of touch with Oregonians. Out of touch with Republicans and Democrats. And out of touch with her district. All the more reason to remove her from office and elect a fair leader who will help to solve the real problems of East County-and Oregon-instead of simply handing things over to big business and extremists.

    The Generation That Will Change The World.

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    The Millennials. The DotNets. That's what they're calling those born between 1985 and 2004. This is also the generation that will most likely bring the biggest change to the GLBT rights movement. Let me just tell you that this makes me feel old when even I don't fit into this generation. I missed this by a couple of years. What's next? The dentist's office will start playing music from the 90's--not the 80's? Oh wait - they've already started that too. Back to the story.

    Detroit News has a great column about this today:

    As the gray heads in the U.S. Senate get ready to weigh in again this June on gay marriage, look elsewhere if you want to see the real deciders, as President Bush might call them.

    Look to the 21-year-old getting ready to enter law school, the 7-year-old zipping by on a Razor scooter and the 2-year-old doing her first spin around the playground in a convertible Cozy Coupe. Their generation will, I predict, have the final say over full marriage equality for those of us who're gay -- and they'll give it an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

    Variously dubbed the DotNets or Millennials, Americans born between 1985 and 2004 are already demonstrating refreshing levels of civic engagement, respect for the power of voting and eagerness to solve problems through team work.

    Generations scholar William Strauss, co-author of "Millennials Rising," predicts young people growing up just behind the cynical, disengaged Generation Xers will be "the next great generation."

    Fortunately, the Millennials also are a big generation. Their impact is going to hit like a political tsunami in the next decade: Even before the final four years of Millennials were born, the 2000 Census put them at 72.4 million strong, nearly matching the 77.6 million Baby Boomers (born between 1945 and 1964).

    Social researchers have found that each new generation is more gay-friendly than the one before -- and the oldest Millennials certainly fit that encouraging pattern.

    Even two years ago, 15- to 25-year-olds favored gay marriage by 56 percent to 39 percent, according to a national survey by the University of Maryland's youth think tank, the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE at civicyouth.org).

    "Each generation has come of age being considerably more tolerant and become even more so," says CIRCLE director Peter Levine, who tracked the attitudes of generational groups over time.

    "This youngest generation is very tolerant, a very large group, and they have turned around the voting decline in the first election in which they could vote. If you put all that together, it spells a huge change in gay rights -- and one not very far off," he adds.

    So are we surprised that each new generation is more gay-friendly than the one before? Of course not, but this is great research to back it up.

    -Bryan Boyd, BRO Communications Coordinator

    Elect a Fair & Experienced Judge: Virgina Linder for Oregon Supreme Court

    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Whew! Isn't primary season exhausting? All those names and issues, many of whom you may not recognize or even care about. It's enough to make you want to forget the democratic process entirely! But because we all know that voting essential to maintaining a functional democracy, we'll get off the couch and down to the polls-or out to the mailbox-anyway. Unfortunately, judicial races are often ignored in election year fervor. In a typical primary, there may be a dozen races, many of which are uncontested. But there are a few races to keep an eye on this year...

    The Basic Rights Oregon Equality PAC is proud to be endorsing Judge Virginia Linder for the Oregon Supreme Court. Judge Linder was appointed to the Oregon Court of Appeals in 1997 and has since been re-elected by the people of Oregon twice. Before her appointment to the court, Judge Linder served as an Assistant Attorney General, Assistant Solicitor General, and State Solicitor General. As Solicitor General, Judge Linder became the first woman in history to represent Oregon in the United States Supreme Court. She also took the lead in drafting an amicus brief on Oregon's behalf urging that Colorado's Amendment Two--which withdrew all legal protection for Colorado citizens on the basis of their sexual orientation-was unconstitutional. The United States Supreme Court struck down Colorado's amendment, and Oregon's brief was credited with playing a key role in the Court's decision.

    Virginia Linder is not only the only woman running for a seat on Oregon's Supreme Court, she is also--more importantly--the only candidate who has actually been a judge.

    One of her opponents, Jack Roberts, is well-known for his animosity towards issues of civil rights. While employed by the Bureau of Labor and Industries to oversee the civil rights division-which is responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws in employment-Roberts recommended abolishing the civil rights division altogether!

    Widely considered a thorough and impartial judge, Judge Virginia Linder's election to the Oregon Supreme Court would ensure a fair and experienced voice on the bench.

    Another candidate to keep an eye on is Trung Tu, who is running for Multnomah County Circuit Judge. Although Basic Rights Oregon usually says out of circuit court races, Trung is worthy of mention. Trung Tu, who was born in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War, arrived in Portland after he and his family fled their homeland by boat and spent nine months in a refugee camp in Japan. After years of hard work to overcome poverty and discrimination, Trung graduated from the University of Notre Dame and the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark. Trung is both respected for his work as an attorney and for his community involvement. He is active in many respects of community-building, including as a member of the Multnomah Bar Association's YLS Service to the Public Committee, a volunteer chaperone for children from the Northwest Elementary Schools Group, and by providing pro bono legal services to the poor and to the Q Center. Trung is also the only out candidate running for circuit judge. Check out his website at www.trungtuforjudge.com.

    As we continue to grow in our efforts to advance equality in Oregon Courts, electing fair, unbiased judges has never been more critical.

    Republicans. The Governors Race. The Problem.

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    Oregon: Stop pretending that voters have spoken on civil unions

    As ballots are marked in the Oregon Gubernatorial races in the coming days, pro-GLBT voters have a lot to think about-particularly if they are Republican.

    The Oregonian Editorial board raised the issue today on its opinion page today, writing:

    "At a recent debate, candidates Kevin Mannix, Ron Saxton and Jason Atkinson sounded strangely similar on this issue, as if they had just stepped out of an echo chamber or were replaying an old script. Had they been governor, all three said firmly that they wouldn't have signed a bill to create civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

    The trio echoed not only each other, but also those Oregon House Republicans who squashed the chance to debate civil unions last year, saying voters had already disposed of this issue."

    Why does this matter so much? Because in the next legislative session we will introduce and are likely to pass a civil unions bill in both chambers of the legislature. Getting that far only to be vetoed by an anti-gay Republican in the Governor's seat would be a terrible blow.

    The major Republican candidates are counting on short memories and gullibility from voters.

    More from the Oregonian:

    "In enticing support for Measure 36, in fact, backers went out of their way to reassure voters, again and again, that the ban wouldn't apply to civil unions or other options to protect gay and lesbian families.

    After winning approval of Measure 36, however, backers began invoking a winner-take-all interpretation of the new law. They began saying the "spirit" of the measure somehow extended to banning civil unions, too."

    And here's where our 'long-term' memory comes in.

    We all undoubtedly remember Measure 36. How could we forget? It took the most sacred document in Oregon law and wrote outright discrimination into it. Then, last legislative session, SB1000 was introduced. SB1000 included civil unions legislation to give same-sex couples and their families the state protection that all committed couples and families needed and deserved.

    (Just to be clear here: from our perspective civil unions are not a suitable "middle path" as the Oregonian claims. They are, in fact, a second class status, but they are also a huge step in the right direction to full marriage equality, and would afford Oregon same-sex couples and their families the protection so badly needed now.)

    The Oregonian is dead-on about the double-talk on the part of the Oregon Family Council, backers of Measure 36, Republican Gubernatorial Candidates and Republican leadership.

    Back in November 2004 when Constitutional Amendment 36 was passed, Tim Nashif, Director of the "Oregon Family Council" which brought Measure 36 to the ballot, said that Measure 36 had nothing to do with civil unions. Here's what they said then:

    "Oregon's measure [36] was written specifically not to address civil unions."
    - Tim Nashif, Oregon Family Council Director and an organizer of the Measure 36 campaign Bend Bulletin. 11/6/2004

    The tune changed quickly when civil unions were actually on the table and in the hands of the Oregon Legislature:

    "Please understand there is no greater threat to marriage right now than civil unions."
    - Oregon Family Council Communications Director Nick Graham In a letter to supporters 4/26/05

    "SB 1000 takes everything that marriage is and calls it civil unions."
    - Tim Nashif, Oregon Family Council Director and an organizer of the Measure 36 campaign The Statesman Journal 4/17/2005

    The Oregonian says:
    Gubernatorial candidates are expected to have some grasp, however dim, of what Oregonians think. Even if candidates cannot intuit or channel the majority's view with any precision, it's fair for them to try, or to make a wild guess.

    What's not fair is to make a wild guess while pretending, sanctimoniously, to be in direct communication with the heart and mind of Oregon. But that pretty much sums up the approach of the three Republican candidates for governor on civil unions.

    Arguing about civil unions, or merely to say the words, apparently is, as Mannix put it during the debate, "disrespectful to our voters."

    Nonsense. What's disrespectful is to assume you know what voters would do, even though they haven't done it or even had a chance to do it."

    (Read the entire article here.)

    Based on what the Oregonian had to say, it appears that the current Republican candidates for Governor aren't letting a little ethical inconsistency get in their way. But, just to be fair, a BRO supporter called all the offices of the Republican candidates yesterday and, to no surprise, Mannix, Atkinson and Saxton all oppose civil unions.

    And, each campaign was clear that its candidate would also veto any omnibus civil rights bill, like SB 1000 (which would have created civil unions and banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity statewide) or stand alone bills containing either component part.

    Let's not be duped. If the current double-talk provides any clue about the future, we are likely to see further revisions in position after the primary when the nominee will then need to pander to middle-of-the-road voters.

    That's why, as pro-GLBT Republican voters mark their ballots in the May Republican primary, history is critical-both the history of opposition to GLBT equality in Oregon and candidates aligned with it AND the opportunity to make-or break-history for GLBT Oregonians through this election and in the next legislative session.

    Visit VoteEquality.com for all of our legislative, statewide and local endorsements/green lights.


    Governor Kulongoski Receives PAC's Primary Endorsement

    Tuesday, May 02, 2006
    Today, the Basic Rights Equality PAC is proud to announce its endorsement of Ted Kulongoski for Governor in the Democratic Primary. Here's why...

    As a movement, we are lucky to live in a state where the fact is our Governor has done more to stake out a public position in favor of GLBT equality and use the office to advocate for equality than any other Governor in the country--period.

    While Basic Rights Oregon continues to push for stronger, bolder, more creative leadership at every level of government, we cannot lose sight of what this Governor has done for the GLBT community from the beginning of his career and at every step along the way. Here is just a snapshot:

  • As a first term legislator, Governor Kulongoski introduced Oregon's first anti-discrimination legislation in 1978.

  • He has consistently and publicly opposed and campaigned against anti-GLBT ballot measures.

  • As Attorney General, the Governor directed his staff to draft an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court on Oregon's behalf arguing that Colorado's anti-GLBT Amendment 2 was unconstitutional -- a brief that was widely considered to have a significant impact in getting the measure thrown out.

  • In his first term as Governor, he introduced anti-discrimination legislation, and requested the landmark Senate Bill 1000, which passed the Senate in 2005 and would have created civil unions for same-sex couples and banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

  • Following the 2005 session the Governor formed the Governor's Task Force on Equality to continue to move the issue of relationship rights and anti-discrimination forward between legislative sessions.

  • And, most recently, the Governor has appointed a senior staff-member as an official liaison to the GLBT community, resulting in direct and more frequent communication with movement leaders and strategists.

    For these reasons and more, the Basic Rights Oregon Equality PAC urges you to vote for Ted Kulongoski in the Oregon Democratic Primary for Governor.

    Ballots have been mailed and are already arriving in mailboxes. Cast your votes for the Candidates of Equality using our online voter's guide at www.VoteEquality.com

  • Diane Linn for County Chair--We couldn't have said it better ourselves

    In the April 21st issue of Just Out, Publisher Marty Davis makes an impassioned case to the GLBT community for reelecting Diane Linn as Multnomah County Chair. We couldn't have said it better ourselves. As ballots arrive in mailboxes this week, we thought it was worth highlighting. Here are some excerpts:

    "As the May primary election grows ever closer, it becomes clear that there is a division in the community over whom to support for the position of Multnomah County chair. Incumbent Diane Linn, noted for her longtime support of gay and lesbian rights, faces a candidate with no record whatsoever of standing with us-or for us. And what we have now is an election that has become as much about our credibility as a community as it is about Linn's viability as a candidate."

    "Now, two years later, the eyes of the nation are on us again as we appear splintered over a decision that will speak volumes to those who might next be asked to step up and move forward with us. National groups, funding sources, strategists, movers and shakers are watching to see if we rise to the occasion as we now step into the role of supporting an ally in need. What is imperative in May is that the gay, lesbian, bi and trans voters of Multnomah County step up and return Diane Linn to office."

    "We have grown well into the position of demanding support of others. Now we have the opportunity to show that we value loyalty and understand the need to reciprocate. It's a two-way street.To those Linn detractors who might be dismayed by the appearance of a candidate in distress: Don't overreact. This is not the time to turn our backs on incumbents when they appear on the ballot with worn and torn records. In all attempts to affect change, there will be successes and there will be failures. Any political novice can run against an incumbent and point to a flawed record. The only way to avoid failures is to never do anything at all. A record without failures is a record of no effort."

    "For us to support a candidate, he or she must have a proven record of working with us and for us. Diane Linn has done so throughout her entire career. Ted Wheeler, by his own admission, has not. Roey Thorpe of Basic Rights Oregon, when asked why Wheeler did not receive a "green light" from the organization, responds: 'BRO gave Ted Wheeler a chance to earn a green light because his campaign said that he was a champion of GLBT civil rights. But when we interviewed him, it became clear that although he is a native Oregonian, he has never given a moment of time or a dollar of his substantial fortune to fight the anti-gay ballot measures. We just couldn't understand how he could claim to support the cause, but never step up to do anything about it, even when our community was under attack. We need to be able to count on elected officials to stand with us each and every time, and there just was no evidence that Ted Wheeler had ever done that, or would in the future."

    "We start the 21st century with goals, plans and lots of work to be done. We require supporters and allies. Diane Linn will be there for us. Keep her in office. And should, one day, another poet muse on loyalty and fidelity, let him say that the gay and lesbian voters of Multnomah County knew the power of friendship. Let him say that we valued loyalty."

    To read the full endorsement column in Just Out, click here.

    Update: BRO Stands With Immigrant Allies

    Monday, May 01, 2006
    Today, will be remembered as one of the largest grassroots efforts for human rights in recent memory--here in Oregon and across the country. Basic Rights Oregon was there with our allies lending our support to a cause just as important to the GLBT community as it is to the immigration community: equality under the law and freedom from scapegoating and attacks by extremists.

    We jumped into the rally and march with our signs proclaiming “Immigrant Rights ARE Basic Rights” and "GLBT People Support Immigrant Rights" and helped make a statement with other supporters through the streets of downtown Portland.

    The campaign was peaceful and simple: “si se puede” (Yes, we can)—and we proved it by coming out in the thousands to show opposition to anti-immigrant rhetoric and legislation.

    Immigrant and allied marchers glanced curiously at our signs before cheering us on and showing their gratitude with warm smiles and peace signs. We received knowing glances and kind words. "We're with you too," many said.

    Ultimately, if we want to bring basic rights to the GLBT community, efforts such as the monumental march and boycott that occurred today, send a message that when united, we will not be defeated or made to be second classe citizens.

    For more information on the link between GLBT and immigrant rights or to see how recent anti-immigrant legislation hurts GLBT pople, check out our post below.

    What Is The Link Between GLBT and Immigrant Rights?

    You may remember from our e-newsletters during this past month, but just in case:

    Today, Basic Rights Oregon will join Oregon's immigrant community and its allies as protests around the country take place to demonstrate the economic power of immigrants and opposition to anti-immigration legislation and dialogue sweeping the country. Along with boycotting work and commerce for a full day, we will join the rally at 11 a.m. at the Oregon State Capital in Salem and at Pioneer Square in Portland. Then there is a march at 12 p.m.

    What is the link between GLBT and immigrant rights? The truth is there is a long history of a shared struggle in Oregon between our communities. One of the ways that the GLBT movement in Oregon has succeeded in defeating anti-gay ballot measures in Oregon is through our coalition work with Oregon's immigrant community. For example, the immigrant community, especially Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United) and CAUSA, worked diligently with us during Measure 36 fight. These groups distributed thousands of pieces of No on 36 literature along with their own, translated for us and made a real effort to reach the immigrant community with our issues. They were there from the beginning of these fights and even when other allies abandoned us during the last campaign, the immigrant community was there. We are all struggling against the same oppression-the subjugation of minority groups and attacks on fundamental equality. Immigrants have not abandoned us in our fight for equality and we cannot abandon them in theirs, because they are in essence the same.

    As queer people, we share much common ground with the immigrant community. We all know what it is like to:

  • Live under laws that say we are less than human
  • Be afraid for the security of our families
  • Be a scapegoat for society's problems
  • Feel vulnerable and unsafe because of policies, institutions and attitudes that keep us on the margins.

    Unjust immigration policies have a profound impact on GLBT immigrants, particularly if we need to get legal status for our partners, have a visa that is contingent upon our employment, or are undocumented and face discrimination in housing, employment and education.

    The immigrant community is being attacked in the name of "homeland security" just as we are being attacked in the name of the "sanctity of marriage." We know from our own experience that civil rights are only rights as long as they belong to everybody - otherwise they become privileges.

    Many people have misconceptions about immigration-that all immigrants are from Mexico, that immigrants are in the United States only to receive welfare or other government assistance, that immigrants are all straight, etc. But in truth, immigrants are as likely to be queer as you or I. Sexual orientation is not limited to white, middle-class Americans. And although over a dozen nations do allow their citizens to sponsor their same-sex partners in immigration efforts, the United States is not one of those. And due to the Defense of Marriage Act, marriages that are legally recognized in places like Canada or South Africa are non-existent in this country. As a GLBT person, you would have no legal recourse if your émigré partner is denied entry at the boarder. Imagine falling in love with a British national, or French, or Peruvian, or anyone who cannot immigrate to this country without a sponsor. This legislation, which also requires, strict ID standards, would also have a devastating impact on trans Oregonians. For these reasons, the queer community is directly affected by the anti-immigration proposals on the table now.

    The root of the current social and political action lies in HR4437, the Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, which was recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and is currently under consideration by the Senate. The passage of this bill would require the erection of 700 miles of fence along the U.S./Mexico border; the imprisonment of undocumented immigrants; employer verification of all employees' immigration status; and the elimination of the Green Card lottery. In addition, the passage of HR4437 would make housing undocumented immigrants a felony, punishable by no less than three years in prison. And perhaps most disturbing-if this bill is signed into law, immigrants could be automatically denied entry based on their political views. These are only a few examples of provisions HR4437 requires.

    We hope you'll join us today to stand in solidarity with the immigrant community when it is under attack. For more information on the lives of GLBT immigrants and the shared struggles of the GLBT and immigrant communities, check out these resources:

  • Immigration Equality

  • PCUN (Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers Union)