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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.


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By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 18, 2006 11:58 AM

We need to quit stressing out about anti-gay offenses, take ourselves off the defense and on the offense. Otherwise, every two years, we will face the same measures over and over again.

It is high time to create a ballot measure that creates equal rights for all Oregonians. Have Religious Rights groups be forced to spend their precious money to defend themselves instead of the other way around.    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 18, 2006 12:39 PM

i second this opinion! i am sure BRO and NGLTF and other national groups have talked about the politics and timing of us PASSING AN ANTIDISCRIM BALLOT MEASURE. i am sure the pros and cons have been weighed mightily . . . but until we come together with ally groups (immigrants?) and make discrimination in policy or practice illegal in our state . . . we will have to keep doing this every 2 years.    

By Blogger BRO, at May 18, 2006 1:16 PM

Taking seriously the threat of anti-GLBT ballot measures doesn't mean that we can't pursue the proactive work of equality.

In fact, that is exactly the case that we have been trying to make to folks. Now is our opportunity to move a pro-equality effort forward in an unprecedented way by electing people to office this year who will pass a pro-equality bill in the legislature next year and by building the grassroots infrastructure and funding base we need to put forth our own ballot measure if the time is right, to defend our victories and to defeat our opponents every time.

Here are the hard facts though--this community is great at mobilizing to defeat our opponents attacks, but --despite consistent calls for a proactive effort--thousands of volunteers and thousands of donors disapear after those campaigns are over. If we could harness that kind of power NOW, we could make equality the law of the land and we could stop anti-GLBT ballot measures once and for all. We CAN do it, but it will take each of us digging deep to make it happen.    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 18, 2006 1:27 PM

Breaking news is looking at Sept 2005 C&E reports that show Defense of Marriage with a $381,797 debt?    

By Blogger BRO, at May 18, 2006 1:33 PM

Unfortunately, the DOMC is not required to file another election year report for some time, but the OFC's report is very recent.

Remember also that debt can be forgiven. What is critical is how much money they are raising between the two PACs. It is astounding.

We can't say for sure, but they may even want to continue to look like they are in serious debt so that the fundraising looks more innocuous. And, it's worth noting, that if we read the OFCs C&Es, it appears that the DOMC PAC is no longer in serious debt. So any money that goes into that PAC now can be used to support any ballot measure campaign.    

By Blogger risa b, at May 19, 2006 9:07 AM

We do have an anti-discrimination law at the federal level.

14th amendment:No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

State and local antidiscrimination laws are redundancies intended to serve notice that "any person" means just that. Each one is a specific admission of the failure of the American dream.

I'd say revive the ERA, with a wider choice of populations. Yes, that's a redundancy also, but at least it goes into the same document and has the same reach.

Can't happen, you say? But of course! That's because neocons and religious bigots are in power. There's no intrinsic reason why that has to be so. Think midterm elections, and think, relentlessly, of candidates. Consider being one. Consider winning.

risa b,

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 20, 2006 12:53 AM

I agree with the previous posting. When was the last time someone knocked on your door collecting signatures for a ballott measure that promoted equality rather than to prevent it?
The courts and politicians (some) often state that since a measure passed by the voters there is nothing they can do, even though they know it is wrong to turn their backs on a minority group.
What if a ballott measure passed that gave gays and lesbians a tax break due to the fact they are only entitled to some of the public services in Oregon and not all of them?
Or what if a ballott measure passed that stated Oregon will not honor any voter passed ballott measure that benefits no-one but hurts many of it's hard working citizens?

People vote for these laws (ie. measure 36) because they don't know any better, and the issues are misrepresented by the campaigners and politicians.
Like many out there, I am tired of having my rights decided by the mainstream society.

I would like ,in my lifetime, to see human beings in Oregon treated as absolute equals, nothing more and nothing less.    

By Blogger Bryan Boyd, BRO, at May 22, 2006 12:20 PM

Risa Bear:

To follow up on your comment, we currently DO NOT have anti-discrimination laws at the federal level, nor do we have them at the state level (Oregon). You can be fired in most of Oregon for simply being gay. You can also be denied a hotel room, turned away at restaurant-- among many other things.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 23, 2006 3:34 PM

I guess it just reads to me as if they had ONE MILLION DOLLARS on hand to spend in the election, when it looks like one group has $77,000 on hand, and the other is seriously in debt. Scaremongering, it feels like....

the headline "build financial war chest" the all-caps "ONE MILLION DOLLARS" and the fine print -- actually missing unless you go looking for it.    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 15, 2006 10:28 PM

yeah, BRO seems to be "scaremongering" as you put it. "Build Financial warchest" is a little much. Until the GLBT community can act cohesively when not on defense, meanwhile the other side follows their common "values", it will be defeat after defeat.
Roey saw the future locally and i believe decided it was time to move on despite the excuses to the contrary.    

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