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City by City, County by County. Corvallis BRAT takes Anti-Discrimination Fight Home and Wins First Round

Earlier this year we pledged to take our fight for anti-discrimination across Oregon city by city and county by county until the Oregon Legislature finally steps up and does its job by passing a comprehensive statewide anti-discrimination bill.

Now, Corvallis may join the ranks of cities that honor diversity in both theory and practice when citizens are given the option of revising the city charter this November to include the protection of sexual and gender minorities from discrimination in city ordinances. The proposed amendment, which has already passed in the city council thanks in part to the hard work of the Corvallis Basic Rights Action Team includes this paragraph:

''The City shall exercise its power to ensure the equal protection, treatment, and representation of all persons without discrimination including, but not limited to, age, citizenship status, color, familial status, gender identity or expression, marital status, mental disability, national origin, physical disability, race, religion, religious observance, sex, sexual orientation, and source or level of income. Corvallis is a community that honors diversity and diverse interests, and aspires to be free of prejudice, bigotry, and hate.''

Now this language goes to the voters for approval.

Although Benton County passed an ordinance adding sexual minorities to anti-discrimination laws over a decade ago, this does not always apply to the Corvallis community. This vote will be significant not only because will give the Corvallis citizens an opportunity to directly vote on the issue but also because a charter revision is much like amending a community's Constitution. It is both harder to achieve and more permanent. Revising the City Charter, which has not occurred in 30 years, involves a series of community meetings, discussions, and, finally, a vote by the public. If the revision passes, Corvallis will join Oregon communities Ashland, Beaverton, Bend, Benton County, Eugene, Lake Oswego, Portland/Multnomah County, and Salem, all of which have instituted anti-discrimination policies for both sexual and gender minorities.

According to Clinton Downs, co-chair of the Basic Rights Action Team: Corvallis, ''Corvallis has consistently voted in favor of families and rights, so it is exciting for us to ask the people to renew our commitment to diversity.'' In addition to the added protection for sexual and gender minorities in the proposed revision, race, ethnicity, and gender as also included..
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