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Flexing Muscle to Challenge Minnis

Friday, September 29, 2006
We all remember the bitter end to the 2005 Legislative Session when House Speaker Karen Minnis, through a series of extreme political maneuvers, blocked Senate Bill 1000 from a vote on the House Floor where we knew -- and she knew -- it would have passed. Our community vowed then and there to make her next race the toughest she'd ever faced and we are already succeeding.

Normally, the Speaker of the House would have an easy race. It is almost unheard of for any candidate to challenge a sitting Speaker of the House or for an organization like BRO to challenge a Speaker, especially one who has wielded as much power as Karen Minnis.

Typically the Speaker, who has the greatest access to deep campaign coffers and political connections, would use her time to campaign and raise money for other right-wing candidates in order to maintain her vice grip on the political majority that keeps her in power.

But this year is different. The Speaker's current challenger took her on in 2004 and almost defeated her with a bare-bones campaign. This time around he has garnered financial support and endorsements from a broad coalition of advocacy groups and he has been able to re-double his efforts. In addition, BRO and our coalition partners have launched a comprehensive effort that is forcing her to dig deep and spend tons of money to defend her own seat. Each dollar she spends defending herself starves vulnerable anti-equality candidates who are depending on her financial support this election cycle. By remaining on the defensive, the Speaker jeopardizes the success of half a dozen anti-equality candidate campaigns AND her return to the Speaker's seat.

Let's be clear. We all want Speaker Minnis out of office and our coalition will give that enormous task the greatest fight we can give. But this is no easy feat. Just as we have set our sights on Speaker Minnis' seat, the far-right has also set this race up as its biggest fight -- and they have no shortage of fund to throw at her race in order solidify its power.

That means that this race is tough for us too, but it also means that we are forcing pro-discrimination groups to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars that they could otherwise use to back candidates who support discrimination or to attack our rights at the ballot.

And on election day, each dollar that has been spent in Karen Minnis' East County fight for her job, each anti-equality candidate without the funds they need to win, and each pro-fairness seat we pick up in the Oregon House diminishes -- if not entirely eliminates -- the power Karen Minnis has to deny Oregonians basic rights.

Reelect Gov. Ted Kulongoski

Thursday, September 28, 2006
In the coming weeks we'll tell you more about our fight to reach each of our three campaign goals, but the any victory will mean little if we do not reach our third winning objective: to reelect Governor Ted Kulongoski.

Here's why: Governor Kulongoski's opponent, Ron Saxton, is an anti-GLBT candidate who supported Measure 36, has stated publicly that he doesn't believe discrimination is a problem in Oregon and has vowed to veto any pro-equality legislation that crosses his desk should he be elected. If he is elected, the real consequence is that legislative progress in our movement for at least the next four years will be brought to an abrupt and unfortunate halt.

But it's also worth mentioning that there is good reason to reelect Governor Ted Kulongoski aside from the threat Ron Saxton poses. 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 we continue 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 the 1970s.

  • 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.

    It is your effort and contribution that will help decide the outcome of this race. We have come together in unprecedented ways to defend our community when it is under attack. Now we must do the same to make change. Get involved. Save the date now for our "Out for Equality" statewide day of action on October 14th and stay tuned for details about what you can do to help.
  • This Is What Victory Looks Like

    In just 30 days Oregonians will begin receiving ballots in what will be--for better or for worse--a defining election for the future of GLBT equality in Oregon for years to come. Never has there been more at stake in local, legislative and statewide candidate races for our movement. That's why Basic Rights Oregon has more than doubled any of our previous efforts to elect pro-GLBT legislators and unseat those who have stood in the way of equality. The truth is that there are more races than we have resources so we have had to be very strategic about our election efforts to make the most impact in the most important races for our issues.

    Here's how we'll succeed:

    1. In order to change the balance of power in the House and bring civil unions and anti-discrimination to a vote in the 2007 legislative session, we must knock off one-bad vote--making sure one of the vulnerable anti-gay Republicans running for reelection does not come back to Salem.

    2. Like we did throughout the legislative session, we will keep relentless pressure on House Speaker Karen Minnis through election day. Normally the Speaker would have an easy race -- and she'd use her time to raise money for other right-wing candidates. But this year, BRO and our coalition partners have launched a full-scale offensive that will force her to dig deep and spend tons of money to defend her own seat. Each dollar she spends defending herself starves vulnerable anti-gay Republicans depending on her financial support this election cycle and puts her return as Speaker in real jeopardy.

    3. We must reelect our pro-LGBT Governor: Ted Kulongoski