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Basic Rights Oregon Condemns Remarks By Oregon Rep. Dennis Richardson Comparing VA Tech Massacre to Gay Rights Bill Passage

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Aisling Coghlan, Interim Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon, issued the following statement today in reaction to the recent comments by Oregon State Representative Dennis Richardson (R- Central Point) in a weekly newsletter to his district. In the newsletter, Richardson made a reprehensible comparison between the massacre at Virginia Tech last week and the passage of a Domestic Partnership bill (HB 2007) and a statewide anti-discrimination bill (SB 2).

In a newsletter titled "A Tragic Week in Review", Rep. Dennis Richardson stated, "This past week has been like no other. On Monday the world witnessed the tragedy at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. On Tuesday Oregon witnessed the passage of Domestic Benefits for same-sex couples (HB 2007) and Civil Rights based on sexual orientation."

Said Coghlan, "While our nation mourns the unprecedented loss of life at Virginia Tech, and tries to recover from the enormity of this loss, Rep. Richardson makes a vulgar comparison insulting to not only Oregonians, but to those most deeply impacted by the massacre. For Richardson to say that protecting Oregon families in times of crisis is equivalent to the mass murder of some of the best and brightest America has to offer is beyond extremely distasteful--it is outright abhorrent."

Basic Rights Oregon's thoughts and prayers are with the students, faculty, families and entire school community as they recover from this devastating event at Virginia Tech.

STRUT PDX: Portland's Fashion Show

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

After the huge success of the first annual STRUT Fashion show in 2006 (photos), 2007's show is ready to blow it out of the water.

This year's event in on Friday, May 11, 7pm @ The Wonder Ballroom,128 NE Russell in Portland

The designers include:
Jonny Shultz Designswww.jonnyshultzdesigns.com
Rachel Mara www.rachelmara.com
LeAnimal www.leanimal.com
Wema Designs www.wemadesigns.com
Sameunderneath www.sameunderneath.com
Magali Corzo www.magalicorzo.com
Makool www.makoolclothing.com


Take 60 Seconds For Basic Fairness.

Monday, April 23, 2007
Fellow Oregonians, today we ask you to take 60 seconds of your day to use our online advocacy tool to tell your Oregon State Senator to vote YES on House Bill 2007, the Domestic Partnership bill.

60 seconds of your time can go a very long way. Please click here to send them an email of support.

Tell your friends!

LIVE Blogging: Final Senate Bill 2 Vote

Thursday, April 19, 2007

There have been a lot of questions about when these two bills, once law would go into effect. Please go to www.basicrights.org and sign up for our e-newsletter (on the left hand side of the home page). We will be sending out a newsletter today (Thursday) explaining what's next.

Thanks to everyone!

That's it folks. Basically no debate. Painless. Senate Bill 2 has passed all hurdles. As we know, Kulongoski is ready to sign it.

Four Senator were excused today.

Whitsett, Atkinson, Gary George, Larry George, Beyer, Kruse, Ferrioli vote NO

Pres. Courtney "the question now rises".

The final vote of approval in the legislature is about to take place.

VOTE TIME! Roll call!

Burdick recommends call of the Senate.

Burdick explains how this bill has been in the legislature for 34 years.

Whitsett urges a NO vote.

Exemption changed in SB2 to address some of the concerns of churches to clarify the exemption.

Sen. Burdick explains the new religious exemption that was amended in the House to simply clarify it further.

Senator Burdick moves to have Senate Bill 2 passed. Discussion begins on SB2.

Devlin (D) and Starr (R) are excused today it sounds like.

Nothing is happening--so I added a pretty little graphic to the top of the post. Just makes you happy doesn't it?

Caucus over. Roll call.

Independent Senator Avel Gordly is the only Independent in the Oregon Senate--she's having her own caucus at her desk while R's and D's are in their respective caucus rooms.

Sen. Majority Leader Kate Brown just called for a caucus. Floor session to resume in 15 minutes.

President Courtney introduced honorary pages. Courtesies were also just extended by Sen. Burdick, Sen. Monnes Anderson and President Courtney.

Wow. They are amazing. Are we in the Senate or at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall?

Opera singers from Portland State University are about to sing.

Seantors are slowly trickling in. Many are still missing. Posting colors is starting.

We're LIVE from Salem! Roll call is starting in the Oregon Senate.

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LIVE Blogging From Senate Bill 2 Vote Tomorrow

Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Don't you worry! We'll be blogging LIVE tomorrow from the Senate Floor as debate happens and as the vote occurs!

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LIVE! From the House vote on SB2 & HB2007

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Outside of the House Majority Leader's office supporters are gathered to celebrate this historic moment. Speaker Merkley, Majority Leader Hunt, Rep. Rosenbaum, Rep. Macphearson, and Rep. Kotek all gave a few remarks before supporters relaying their excitement over the passages of HB2007 and SB2. Majority Leader Hunt mentioned that this is a great moment in our history and giant stride on the path toward equality.

It's okay to breathe. Then shout in excitement for the passing of these two pieces of historic legislation. Both bills will be sent to the Senate for consideration. Even though SB2 was passed once in the Senate, it was amended in the House so it must go back to the Senate. Watch your email for the next steps.

SB2 passes 35-25.

Voting system is open.

Rep. Rosenbaum finished the debate and called for a call of the house requiring the attendance of all members. The vote is coming.

Rep. Rosenbaum is closing the debate on the bill. A vote will be coming shortly. 34 years is long enough to question this bill and debate this bill.

Rep. Kotek just rose as a point personal privilege to request that Rep. Richardson monitor his words as they could be interpreted as attacking her character.

Opponent Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, after asking a series of questions is now speaking on the floor of the House. He began stating that he was not going to be speaking about nature vs. nurture, but he's going down a path of comparing not hiring a heavy smoker due to their behavior to discriminating based on sexual orientation.

Following reading a telephone transcript, Rep. Andy Olson, R-Albany, read 1 Corinthians 6:10-11,

"Or don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, will inherit the Kingdom of God."

It was just read on the floor of the House. He concluded that SB2 is a step in the wrong direction.
Rep. Thatcher is continuing her speech on the floor quoting the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. stating that rights for gays and lesbians are not civil rights. Rather than a niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., I believe that Coretta Scott King might be a more accurate representation of the views of MLK, Jr. when she stated in 1998, "I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice," she said. "But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'" "I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people." - Reuters, March 31, 1998.

Rep. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, is questioning the carriers of the bill regarding the inclusion of transgendered individuals in the definition of sexual orientation. She is continuing her questioning regarding the administration of SB2 and is seeking clarification on a definition of sexual orientation. She "can't wait" for the courts to interpret this law. One part she keeps discussing is the notion of real or perceived sexual orientation. This language exists in SB2 to protect all Oregonians. We heard testimony of individuals being denied services simply because they were perceived to be homosexual, despite the fact they are heterosexual.

Another question from Rep. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, regarding the hiring practices of private catholic hospitals and how SB2 would affect these practices.

Apologize for the delay. There is questioning of SB2 with regard to some sections regarding the accommodation of those protected in this bill with regards to locker rooms in high schools and employment dress codes. In this latest series we've covered if the Dept. of Corrections was consulted in the drafting of the legislation to the potential financial impact of the bill.

Another young member of the legislature, Rep. David Edwards, rises in support of SB2. "Our social covenant means that together we are responsible for the character of our state." Freedom from discrimination is the important part of this legislation and to be deprived of it is the type of excommunication of our society. "In this moment, I am compelled to own up to God's love...this hour demands the whole of our attention."

Rep. Linda Flores, R-Clackamas, is asking multiple questions regarding some element she considers the bill to require affirmative action for the protected category of sexual orientation. She is now speaking in opposition to the bill. She is claiming that supporters at the hearing last week in the House hearing showed intolerance toward an elderly couple and were given preferential treatment in seating on the hearing. She also stated that she has to vote her values on this bill and will not be voting yes.

House Majority Leader, Dave Hunt, is speaking in support of SB2. He is recounting the history of this type of legislation and how long it has taken to get here. He is describing how he met with 30 religious leaders to develop the religious exemption language. "SB2 gives broad deference to religious institutions." Additionally, there are hundreds of religious organizations across this state that have signed on in support of SB2.
Rep. Hunt shared that at his father's funeral (his father was a pastor) a woman who was a lesbian shared how important his father was in supporting her during a time of reconciling her sexual orientation and her God. That was his legacy and Rep. Hunt stated, "Today is our legacy."

As one who has attended private catholic school, Rep. Chip Shields, is rising to support the bill but with discomforts that religious institutions will still be able to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, just rose on the House floor to speak in support of this bill in disbelief that we are still debating elements of civil rights. He stated, Rational human beings do not choose lifetimes of intolerance and discrimination.

A continuation of the supportive legislators on SB2. Rep. Ben Cannon talked about the importance this legislation will have in making it clear to administrators, principles and teachers in our schools that no student should face discrimination. No school should be an unsafe place for learning.

The debate on SB2 has been supportive. There have been a few questions from legislators, but all debate and speeches have been in agreement with providing comprehensive non-discrimination to all Oregonians.

Yea Votes on HB2007
Barker, Barnhart, Berger, Beyer, Bonamici, Boone, Buckley, Burley, Cannon,
Clem, Cowan, Dingfelder, Edwards, C, Edwards, D, Galizio, Gelser, Greenlick,
Holvey, Hunt, Jenson, Komp, Kotek, Macpherson, Nathanson, Nolan, Read,
Riley, Roblan, Rosenbaum, Schaufler, Shields, Tomei, Witt, Speaker Merkley

On Oregon State University day at the Capitol, University of Oregon graduate Rep. Kotek took the floor again to support SB2 that we have been fighting for over 30 years to get into law. She is sharing the stories of those who testified in committee, specifically those of parents who had their children discriminated against just because they were gay. From stories regarding discrimination against opening bank accounts to being denied a room at a hotel at the Oregon Coast just on the basis of sexual orientation.

Rep. Macpherson is the co-sponsor of this bill and spoke about the basic equality that SB2, The Oregon Equality Act, would bring to GLBT persons in Oregon.

Rep. Rosenbaum is presenting SB2.

HB2007 passes 34-26. Three Republicans (Berger, Burley, Jenson) voted yes on HB2007. This was primarily due to great work done by citizens contacting these legislators and urging their support of this legislation. I specifically remember the large group from Bend on BRO's Day of Action spending a good amount of time with Rep. Burley. Thank you for all your hard work in making this a reality. HB2007 now moves to the Senate.

The voting system is now open with regards to if HB2007 should pass.

After about 45 minutes debating the bill, Rep. Kotek is now giving a closing statement on the bill. After this bill, "The world will be different." "This is about bringing people in, not shutting them out."

Rep. Gelser is speaking on the floor regarding the Godmother of her child calling Rep. Gelser after her partner had been hit by a drunk driver. Going through that tragic event the first call was not to friends or family for the Godmother, but it was to the attorney that drafted documents in an attempt to protect this couple in an event like this.
During a difficult child birth it was unclear if Rep. Gelser would survive, but there was not a call to attorneys by her husband to ensure he had custody of the child or the right to make decisions in her best interest. This situation is not true for same-sex couples under current Oregon law and with her vote today, Rep. Gelser hopes to help make things more fair. She urged her colleagues to, "Be courage and be hope."

Rep. Girod is "proud to be voting no. Thanks."

Rep. Chip Shields is speaking to the difference between domestic partnership and marriage.
"I believe years from now we'll remember the historic significance of this moment, but we'll also see plainly the short sightedness of these efforts...it is a big step forward on the road to equality."

Rep. Buckley has taken the floor after some opposition to HB2007. Rep. Buckley is sharing about the lesbian couple that were his neighbors as he was a new parent. Through the struggles he endured in life with the growth of his children, he remembers the lesbian couple there supporting his family. He also remembers watching one of the partners dealing with the passing of a parent and how the lesbian couple did not share the same rights as he did in enduring life events. "When people ask me why we should pass this bill, the answer is why shouldn't we?"

Rep. Richardson is claiming in debate on the floor that HB2007 creates "special rights" because a mother and daughter cannot enter a domestic partnership.

Rep. Kotek just delivered a moving speech with her partner Amy sitting by her side on the floor of the House. She urged her fellow lawmakers to recognize her loving committed relationship like the state currently recognizes their families. She said that this can be one of the best days of a legislator as HB2007 is a chance to make stronger families in Oregon.
Rep. Rosenbaum is continuing to carry this bill on the floor right now.

IT'S TIME! After getting through the daily grind, Speaker Merkely just introduced HB2007 and Rep. Kotek is leading the opening of the debate on the bill.

The session has begun. The former speaker of the House, Karen Minnis, who you may remember from 2005, blocked similar legislation from a vote on the floor of the House, entered after the presentation of arms and pledge of allegiance.


Looking across the Gallery in the House, we've identified another blogger. The Mercury's Amy Ruiz is blogging on Blog Town PDX. Check it out!

The BRO Communications Team is blogging LIVE! from the Gallery of the House as we await the beginning of what should be a historic day for Oregon.

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