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Oregon Governor Race: A Red Flag

Thursday, June 29, 2006

With the Primary election over, Basic Rights Oregon is beginning its focus on the candidates in the November election for Governor.

For the GLBT community the portrait of one of the candidates isn't a pretty one.

When Ron Saxton began his quest to be Oregon's next governor, many of us hoped that he might represent a return to a more moderate Republicanism.

But that's not what happened.

During the Primary election, we got to see the real Ron Saxton: a candidate who has allied himself with the most virulent anti-gay forces in Oregon. As a result, the GLBT community faces an Election Day threat every bit as serious as Ballot Measures 36, 13, and 9.

Think that overstates the case? Take a look at where he stands on basic fairness:

  • Saxton opposes basic equal treatment for GLBT Oregonians and our families. Forget about equal marriage rights: Saxton opposes even civil unions. [KGW GOP Primary Debate 4/24/06; Statesman Journal, 4/23/06]

  • Saxton doesn't seem to have any problem with anti-GLBT discrimination. He opposes adding sexual orientation and gender identity to anti-discrimination statutes. "I'm not convinced that it needs to be there," he said [WB's "Outlook Portland," 4/2/06] and has vowed to veto any bill like Senate Bill 1000 should it pass in the next legislative session.

  • And Ron Saxton actively courted - and won - the support of the anti-gay Oregon Family Council. In fact, they liked him even more than Kevin Mannix. Even OFC Director Tim Nashif personally sent a recorded phone endorsement to 160,000 Republican voters, telling them to vote for Saxton over Mannix in the primary election. [Willamette Week, May 24, 2006]

    There are many questions still to be asked about the race for governor. But one has been answered. A Ron Saxton victory will guarantee another defeat for equality in Oregon.


  • Measure 36: ReUnion Party

    Wednesday, June 28, 2006
    Measure 36 ReUnion Party

    Two years ago this summer, opponents of GLBT equality submitted signatures for Oregon's Measure 36.

    It was a very tough campaign. We phone banked. We canvassed. We stuffed envelopes, unstuffed our wallets, and much, much more.

    If you're like us, you miss the community, the camaraderie and all those queer and friendly faces.

    So how about a ReUnion party?
    Let's celebrate our work, drink punch and tell stories during a reUnion that promises to be far better (and far less awkward) than your high school reunion!

    Nothing serious. No big politicking.
    Just join us for food and fun, including a very entertaining Elected Officials v. Dragsters Jeopardy match.

    Saturday, July 8th, 4-7pm

    Metropolitan Learning Center
    2033 NW Glisan (at NW 20th Ave.), Portland

    All GLBTQ and allied folks are welcome! Kid-friendly! Check out new ways to be active in our community that fit your passions.

    For more information call 503.222.6151 or go to www.basicrights.org

    Brought to you by the volunteer members of the Portland Basic Rights Action Team.

    Governor Kulongoski's Taskforce on Equality

    We wanted to let everyone know that there is an upcoming meeting with the Governor's Taskforce on Equality that you are welcome to attend.

    The Governor's Taskforce on Equality will meet June 30, 2006.
    Time: 9am - 12pm
    Location: Bureau of Labor and Industries
    800 NE Oregon St., Room 120
    Portland, Oregon

    The Governor's Taskforce on Equality website is located here. The website contains meeting locations, minutes of the meetings and links to relevant laws and materials being considered by the Task Force. Check it out, it is a great resource for questions you may have about the Governor's Task Force on Equality.

    Fred Phelps' Trip to Oregon: An Update

    Tuesday, June 27, 2006

    An update on our previous post. There are two military funeral protests by the Phelp's clan--not just one. Four hundred "Patriot Guard's" from seven Western States are riding their motorcycles to Oregon to shield the Westboro Baptist Church protesters. More information below.

    Rev. Fred Phelps and his followers will be coming to Oregon on Thursday, July 29 and Saturday, July 1st, to protest at the memorial services of Spc. Robert Jones of Milwaukie and Pfc. Thomas Tucker of Madras. Jones was in his second tour of Iraq when he was hit with mortar and died instantly in Baghdad on Friday, July 16. His memorial will be held at the New Hope Community Church in Clackamas. Tucker was one of two American soldiers kidnapped by militiamen in Iraq on June 16. His body, along with the body of fellow soldier Kristian Menchaca, was found on June 20. The soldiers had been tortured, mutilated, and booby-trapped. Private Tucker's memorial will be held at Deschutes County Fairgrounds Expo Center in Redmond.

    “Veterans understand personal sacrifice and the US military tradition of defending our freedoms. Sadly, some abuse our freedoms and Reverend Phelps does so in the most un-American of ways”, said Frank Dixon, Basic Rights Oregon Board Member and a gay Army veteran.

    Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas have become notorious in recent years for criticizing public figures as varied as Ronald Regan, Fred Rogers, Reggie White, Cindy Sheehan, and Mathew Shepard, all due to the church's belief that America is too tolerant of homosexuality. The group's primary tenet and slogan is "God Hates Fags," which is also the name of their website and expresses their belief that all of the world's woes result from society's increasing acceptance of homosexuality. The protestors typically hold signs outside of military funerals with such slogans as "Thank God For IEDs," "Thank God For Dead Soldiers," "Thank God For 9/11," and "Fag Soldier In Hell."

    Phelps and the church have come into opposition of groups not always associated with advocating for sexual minorities. One such group is the Patriot Guard, motorcyclists who surround the protestors at military funerals in an attempt to block grieving family members from exposure to Phelp's group. According to Becky Groves, Pvt. Tucker's cousin and the president of PFLAG Central Oregon, over 400 Patriot Guard members from seven western states will be in attendance and the funeral on Saturday. "It saddens me that my family must endure their hateful protests at a time that is excruciatingly painful," says Groves. "Fortunately, the Patriot Guard has been following the Phelps clan. I am deeply grateful for what they have been doing."

    See more about this story on our previous post.

    Pvt. Thomas Tucker's Funeral to be Protested by Fred Phelps' "Church"

    [UPDATE: Click here to read]

    Kidnapped, tortured and killed. A fallen hero and a fellow Oregonian. We wanted to bring this horrific event to your attention. Fred Phelps, leader of the cultish "Westboro Baptist Church" is coming to Oregon to protest at the memorial service of Pvt. Thomas Tucker who was recently killed in Iraq.

    This message comes from a dear friend of Basic Rights Oregon, Becky Groves, President, PFLAG Central Oregon:

    As some of you know from the news reports, the Westboro Baptist Church ran by Fred Phelps (www.godhatesfags.com) and his family is planning to demonstrate at the Memorial Service for my cousin, Pvt. Thomas Tucker who was kidnapped, tortured, and killed in Iraq last week. If you know anything about this church, they have been picketing gays' funerals and AIDS victims' funerals for many years. Now their target is military funerals. It saddens me that my family must endure their hateful protests at a time that is excruciatingly painful for Tommy's parents and his sister. Fortunately, the Patriot Guard (www.patriotguard.org) has been following the Phelps clan around to military funerals and blocking their view from the family. They will also be in attendance at Saturday's 1:00 PM Memorial Service at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds Expo Center. I am deeply grateful for what they have been doing.

    Some have asked if there is anything that they can do to show their support. After talking with other PFLAGers and groups that have dealt with Phelps, most have agreed that a silent protest sends a powerful message. If you would be inclined to engage in a shouting match with the Phelps group, please do not come. (I know it will be hard!) We want to just form a human shield from the Phelps group and show support not engage in any kind of verbal confrontations with them. No matter our political views and differences, I think this is something that we can unite on. Thanks in advance to anybody who can come and lend their support.

    I invite all of you to join in this silent display of respect.

    We've all seen the disgusting things that this so-called "Westboro Baptist Church" does. From signs ranging to "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" to "God Hates America" to "Thank God for IED's". I cannot think of anything more abhorrent and disrespectful to our fallen soldiers than something like this.

    Farewell Party for Roey Thorpe

    Monday, June 26, 2006

    We would like to extend a special invitation to you, a supporter of basic fairness and equality for all Oregonians. As you know, Roey Thorpe, our Executive Director for the past five years, will be leaving Basic Rights Oregon on June 30th. We invite to to join us on Tuesday, June 27th to bid her farewell.

    Since taking the top position at Oregon's largest and most influential statewide GLBT-rights organization in 2001, Roey has moved Basic Rights Oregon from an organization that lacked direction, focus, stability and influence after years of hard fought ballot measure campaigns, to one that is now widely recognized as a thriving, effective and respected political powerhouse.

    While with Basic Rights Oregon, Thorpe led Oregon through a tight election campaign against an anti-gay constitutional amendment, tenaciously spearheaded creative legislative and litigation strategies and contributed her expertise to the growth of BRO and to colleagues in the Equality Federation of LGBT statewide organizations around the country. Under her leadership, Basic Rights Oregon and its allies built a diverse and powerful team of non-GLBT and GLBT activists, business and labor leaders, religious and civic leaders, and coalition partners that is a model to others in the movement.

    Let's celebrate our collective successes as a community and look
    forward to what's to come over the next few years.

    Event Details:
    Tuesday, June 27th, 2006 5:30-8pm
    1700 NE Broadway, Portland, 97232

    Light appetizers, cocktail service. A huge thank you to Charles Zorich and Epicure for donating space and food!

    No need to RSVP, just show up.

    Special thanks to: Epicure

    Basic Rights Oregon Seeks New Executive Director

    Friday, June 23, 2006

    Position Announcement: Executive Director. Basic Rights Oregon is seeking a passionate and experienced civil rights leader to serve as Executive Director.

    To view requirements/description for the position, please click here for pdf.

    Eat out. Bites For Rights Today!!!

    Thursday, June 22, 2006

    An amazing 75 restaurants have signed on to donate 15% of their sales today to Basic Rights Oregon. To find what restaurants are participating in your area, please visit www.BitesForRights.com. Eat out all day! Breakfast, lunch and dinner... oooh and don't forget dessert.

    Bites For Rights 2006! This Thursday!

    Monday, June 19, 2006

    Bites for Rights is back for 2006! Eat out all day--and don't forget dessert! Click here to learn what restaurants are participating in your area. They're all over Oregon!

    Visit www.BitesForRights.com for all the information that you'd ever need--AND EAT!!!

    Meet "Queer As Folks" Peter Paige Tomorrow!

    Thursday, June 15, 2006
    Meet Peter Paige of Queer as Folk at the Portland Premier of his new movie "Say Uncle"! Buy Tickets Now!

    Film Action Oregon and The Portland Lesbian & Gay Film Festival will present the Portland premiere of the film, "Say Uncle" on Friday, June 16 at 7pm. Director Peter Paige and others will participate in a panel discussion to explore the gay themes in the film including discrimination and society's definition of family- following the screening. The event is made possible through the support of the Equity Foundation, the Multnomah County Cultural Coalition and the Heathman Hotel. Admission is $10 and all proceeds will support the educational programs of Basic Rights Oregon. Peter Paige wrote, produced and directed the film, which was shot in Portland in summer 2004. Paige is perhaps best known for his starring role in the American version of the Showtime drama series "Queer as Folk". Buy Tickets Now!

    Say Uncle Premiere and Panel Discussion with Peter Paige
    Friday, June 16, 2006 beginning at 7:30 p.m.
    Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd.
    Ticket are only $10.00 and proceeds benefit Basic Rights Oregon
    Buy Tickets Now!

    Need a summer job? Want to join the fight for equality for all?

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    Join Basic Rights Oregon this summer and get paid to stand up for equality! We're launching a massive project to educate the public about issues important to the GLBT community and progressive Oregonians. This is a chance to be part of history.

    Job responsibilities include:

  • Community outreach and education
  • Recruit volunteers and build the movement for equality

    You get:
  • A good paying job for the summer
  • A fun place to work and a chance to change the world
  • Extra opportunities to learn about social change and political campaigns

    To apply, contact Mike Grigsby at brosummercanvass@hotmail.com or at 503-891-5092.

    Basic Rights Oregon is an equal opportunity employer. GLBT and people of color encouraged to apply. This project is made possible through the generous support of the Human Rights Campaign.
  • March with Basic Rights Oregon at Pride 2006!

    Happy Pride Month! Basic Rights Oregon is planning a substantial presence in this year's Pride Parade, and we want you to join us! Partners, friends, family, allies the more the merrier. We'll have a number of elected officials joining us this is your chance to grill them! We'll have signs. And on top of everything, we'll have fun!

    Meet us at 10:30 am on Sunday, June 18th in the North Park Blocks wearing comfortable clothes and shoes. Please contact Aubrey at aubreyh@gmail.com with any additional questions. Spread the word, bring your friends, and we'll see you there!

    Defeated: Federal Marriage Amendment

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    The Senate voted 49 to 48 today to defeat the discriminatory Federal Marriage Amendment, an amendment that would have denied marriage to same-sex couples and seriously threatened civil unions and domestic partnerships. Thank you to all of you who took action here in Oregon--and beyond.

    As expected, Sen. Ron Wyden voted against it, while Sen. Gordon Smith voted for this discriminatory measure.

    Bryan Boyd, BRO Communications

    Hate Crime on Stark Street

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    I just wanted to let everyone know that BRO is working to find out more information regarding the alleged hate crime that took place outside of "The Escape" on Stark St. It is deeply concerning to us and any additional information that we obtain, we will quickly share with you.

    From kgw.com:

    Three gay men were beaten near a Portland nightclub last weekend during what police described as a hate crime.

    The assault occurred about 2 a.m. Saturday after the trio left The Escape and were walking near SW 10th Ave. and Stark Street. They said several men began verbally harassing them about their sexual orientation and then started throwing punches.

    "I turned around and got punched in the eye a few times," said one of the victims who identified himself as Glitter John. He said the assailants fractured his cheek bone, which may require surgery.

    A second victim said he was repeatedly kicked all over his body.

    Police have only a vague description of the suspects -- white men appearing to be in their 20s.

    Authorities encouraged anyone with information about the beating to call police.

    -Bryan Boyd, BRO Communications

    Call Senator Smith Today! Denouce his support of the Federal Marriage Amendment!

    Senator Gordon Smith (R) supports the Federal Marriage Amendment. He needs to hear from us Oregonians.

    The last time Republicans tried this they failed, but they're expected to make gains this year. Senator Gordon Smith and Senator Ron Wyden are going to be key. Can you call Sen. Smith and tell them that you, as an Oregonian, adamantly oppose any amendment that would permanently write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution.

    Each and every call matters.

    Demand that Sen. Smith stop playing divisive politics and instead lead on issues that matter to working Americans. For the first time in history, this amendment would actually add discrimination into the document that over time has come to be the very thing that protects us all. Is this the legacy that Senator Smith wants to leave?

    The Senate will likely vote on Wednesday on whether to invoke cloture or limit debate, on the amendment. Even proponents of the measure agree that support for Federal Marriage Amendment falls short of even a simple 51-vote majority, far less than the 67 votes needed to amend the Constitution. Even more evidence that they are simply playing with the lives of American families.

    Do not let this stop you from contacting your Oregon Senators.

    Call Senator Gordon Smith now. Do not call his Oregon offices, please direct all calls to his Washington, DC office.

    Senator Gordon Smith
    Toll-Free (DC Switchboard): 1.888.355.3588
    Direct: 202.224.3753 - direct

    Tell Him:

    My name is [Your Name], and I am a constituent from [Your City, Oregon]. The Federal Marriage Amendment is an offensive attack on American families. Bigotry and intolerance do not belong in such a sacred document as the U.S. Constitution. Same-sex couples deserve to be treated fairly, and with respect. Please, do not participate in right-wing extremist attempts to demonize them solely for political gain.

    I urge you to oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment at every opportunity. Vote against closing debate on the issue. If it does come up for a vote on the floor of the Senate, I strongly urge you to vote against it then too.

    I'm counting on you to stand up to hateful, divisive tactics. This issue is important to me. Thank you for your time.

    Next, if you have time please make sure to call Senator Ron Wyden, who strongly opposes this discriminatory legislation, and thank him for his continuing support of equality for all Americans.

    Senator Ron Wyden
    Phone: 202.224.5244

    Continue to call Senator Gordon Smith. Drive the point across. If after hours, please leave a message urging him to oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment.

    Even the most recent nationwide polling shows that a majority of Americans are becoming increasingly supportive of equality under the law for gay and lesbian families, and increasingly opposed to meddling with a document as sacred as the U.S. Constitution. This newest revival of an already rejected amendment further demonstrates that the far-right leadership's views are out of step with the majority of Americans who are much more concerned with livable wages, rising healthcare costs, education, cost of oil and deeply worried about the ongoing war in Iraq.

    They are using fear and misunderstanding to divert attention from the issues that are actually important to working Americans, while at the same time denigrating, demonizing and defaming gay and lesbian people and our families. This amendment is divisive. This amendment is unnecessary. This amendment contradicts the most basic American values of fairness and equality.

    Thank you,
    Basic Rights Oregon

    Action Alert: Federal Marriage Amendment

    Friday, June 02, 2006
    Next week, the U.S. Senate will vote on the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" -- a constitutional amendment that will write discrimination into the United States Constitution by banning same-sex marriage. We all know the destructive consequences of such an amendment and we all must act as one to stop it.

    Senator Gordon Smith plans on voting yes to pass this amendment to permanently write discrimination into the United States Constitution. Senator Ron Wyden will vote NO but both senators need to hear the voice of our community to demand fairness for all Americans.

    Thank Senator Wyden for his opposition to this amendment.
    Call Senator Ron Wyden:
    Portland Office: (503) 326-7525
    D.C. Office: (202) 224-5244

    Call Senator Smith and the White House:

    Call Senator Gordon Smith
    Portland Office: (503) 326-3386
    D.C. Office: (202) 224-3753

    The White House: (202) 456-1111

    Tell them:

    Discrimination has no place in the U.S. Constitution. The Federal Marriage Amendment would undermine the Constitution, which in more than 200 years has never once been amended to deny rights to a group of Americans.

    Instead of addressing a health care crisis, the costly war in Iraq and soaring gas prices, President Bush and the leadership in Congress are putting politics ahead of real progress by debating this divisive amendment.

    Many legal experts agree this amendment also would close the door on civil unions even though 60 percent of Americans support ensuring all families can protect each other in times of crisis.

    Leading conservatives agree that this amendment goes against the values we stand for as a country, including former Senator and Rev. John Danforth, George Will, William Safire and Bob Barr.

    The last thing the American people want is Congress reaching into a family's private life, just like Terri Schiavo.