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Corvallis: Equality is on Your Ballot

By Thomas Wheatley, BRO Organizing Director

Just about every week I drive from the BRO office in Portland to a Methodist church in Corvallis. It's gotten to be my Thursday ritual.

A lot of my job is driving around the state to meet with local activists and volunteers and help people put their values to work in the struggle for full equality.

Over the last 10 weeks, I've visited six counties and logged over 2,000 miles on the road. And that doesn't even count the miles I drive in the metro area, particularly on regular visits to suburban Washington County.

But Corvallis is special for me. I go to Corvallis every week to join the leaders of the Corvallis Basic Rights Action Team (BRAT) – a dedicated group of activists who are running a local campaign to amend their city charter.

A city's charter is like its constitution. But this constitutional amendment is actually positive for a change.

The Corvallis Basic Rights Action Team held its kick-off meeting in late 2005. At that point they decided to update the city's nondiscrimination law to include protections for gender identity and gender expression. The current Corvallis law protects people against discrimination based on sexual orientation, but leaves the transgender out in the cold. Corvallis folks decided that they wanted to fix this.

But rather than take the easy route, and write these protections into statute, the Corvallis BRAT decided to go for the gold standard. They're putting protections against discrimination into the city charter. And as a result they'll be in a much stronger position.

This campaign isn't being run by professional politicos or outside interests. It's being run by every-day folks who care about equality. The care enough to give up their Thursday evenings for a weekly meeting at the local Methodist church as well as time all through the week to raise money and educate their community.

Basic Rights Oregon has been with them every step of the way to help with planning, strategy, messaging and fundraising.

Ballots are going out in the mail as I write. And thanks to the hard work of the Corvallis Basic Rights Action Team and many others, Corvallis voters will be able to vote YES on Local Measure 02-56.

To learn more or to contribute to their campaign, go to www.InclusiveCorvallis.org. If you live in or around Corvallis, and want to help out, email me at thomas@basicrights.org and I'll get you connected.

Aside from Local Measure 02-56, before filling out your ballot, I invite you to chec out our first-ever online statewide voter guide. Not only does it include all of the candidates endorsed by the Basic Rights Oregon Equality PAC, but it includes all statewide ballot measures and endorsements. Vote SMART. Vote OUT. Vote EQUALITY. Visit www.VoteEquality.com
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By Anonymous Wendy, at November 14, 2006 1:57 PM

Only a few days before Corvallis Charter Amendment # 02-56 passed the vote, I was "fired" from a job in Corvallis solely on the basis of sexual orientation. The director told me that everyone there loved me, and he was very pleased with my work. HOWEVER, an anonymous email revealed to him my sexual orientation, and _that_ was not in line with their "core values" and so he "had to" let me go Here's the potential "catch," the employer was a not-for-profit "ministry"... and therefore possibly exempt from adhering to Corvallis Charter Amendment # 02-56.
Sad situation! Especially since it was this "ministry's" aim to "build bridges in the community."    



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