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An Urgent Message from BRO Executive Director John Hummel

Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I'm writing today with an update about the efforts by anti-gay groups to force a public vote on our new Basic Fairness laws. I’m also writing with a simple message: We absolutely must not underestimate our opponents.

As you know, opposition groups have pledged to bring both the Oregon Equality Act and the Oregon Family Fairness Act to a public vote on the November 2008 ballot. Last week we asked you to tell us if you've seen these petitions circulating. You responded, and we’ve collected information on petitions circulating all over the state - from Portland to The Dalles, from Salem to Jackson County, at county fairs, outside of malls and post offices, and in places of worship.

Yet today, there was an article in The Oregonian discussing our opposition's "lack of organization" and the possibility that they will not collect enough signatures.

If this turns out to be true, we'll be the first ones celebrating. And then we'll move immediately to the major task of implementing these historic laws.

We are confident that the overwhelming majority of Oregonians believe in basic fairness and want to protect all Oregon families from discrimination, including their GLBT neighbors. However, it simply doesn't take many signatures to get a referendum on the ballot.

And sadly, anti-gay groups in Oregon have proven a proven track record that indicates they can do what is necessary to qualify for the ballot– even using outright deceit and scare tactics to motivate their base.

And while we may become overjoyed with the notion, the worst thing at this moment would be for us to become complacent.

In 2004, for example, many speculated that Measure 36 could have trouble making the ballot. Yet the opposition collected an unprecedented 244,000 signatures (more than four times the signatures needed this year) in just 5 short weeks. Compare that to today, when our opponents still have 7 weeks to collect just 55,179 valid signatures.

Furthermore, a newspaper story like this one often does two things:
1) Motivate our opponents to gather more signatures and
2) Create complacency among supporters of equality.

Don't let that happen! We must be prepared to move forward aggressively with a campaign to protect Oregon's new fairness laws. We have the gift of time to lay the groundwork. Let’s not squander it.

Instead, make today the day to rev up your efforts. Please take at least one (or all!) of the following actions today and spread the word to your families, friends and co-workers.

1.) If you belong to a church or other religious institution, please urge your faith leaders not to be a part of this divisive effort and urge them to support basic fairness for all Oregonians.

2.) Sign the "Pledge to Defend Equality" and send it to 5 friends today. To sign the pledge, please go to http://www.basicfairness.org and to send the pledge to up to 10 friends, go here.

3.) Donate to help Basic Rights Oregon stand up to our opposition and defeat this divisive campaign. To make a contribution to equality, please click here. Your donation of any amount is always very appreciated as we need to raise critical funds to fight these attacks.

In Solidarity,

John Hummel
Executive Director