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Amid reports that their efforts to roll back Oregon's new anti-discrimination laws were faltering, anti-gay activists today turned in barely enough signatures to meet the 55,179 minimum required by the Secretary of State to force a referendum on the laws. Because of likely duplications and other errors by signature gatherers, it is too early to tell whether the effort was successful.

"We are encouraged," Hummel said today at the Capitol, where he was joined by supporters of the laws. "In refusing to sign these petitions, Oregonians showed that they aren't interested in rolling back our anti-discrimination laws."

The Oregon Secretary of State has 30 days to determine whether either referendum has qualified. Hummel said Basic Rights Oregon plans to closely monitor the signature verification process to ensure that only valid signatures are counted.

"We will be here in Salem every day to observe the process," Hummel said. "We won't rest until the outcome is known."

Both laws were passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor last May. They are slated to go into effect on January 1, 2008, unless the referenda qualify for the ballot.

One law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations such as restaurants.

The other law creates legal recognition for same-sex couples through domestic partnerships, giving committed couples certain rights and responsibilities, like hospital visitation rights, and the ability to make medical decisions for one another in a crisis.

Hummel said Oregonians know discrimination should be against the law.

"Oregonians know that discrimination is wrong," Hummel said. "They know it should be against the law to fire a good employee just because that person is gay or lesbian. And they know that committed couples should have the legal means to take care of each other, especially in a crisis."

During the legislative session, numerous Oregon businesses, including a coalition of small businesses around the state as well as corporate leaders such as Nike, Qwest and PGE offered strong support for the laws, citing the need for consistent statewide law to build and keep a diverse and talented workforce.

Salem nurse Nancy Frantz-Geddes, who has been in a committed relationship with her partner Peggy for 23 years, is well aware that the legal recognition provided by a domestic partnership is critical in a crisis.

"I want my life partner to make decisions about my care in an emergency," Frantz-Geddes said. "Without Oregon's domestic partnership law, a hospital would not have to honor my wishes. And were she in the hospital, I might not even be allowed to visit her."

Troutdale parent Don Ross said the law will make a difference for his son.

"As parents, we all want our children to be treated fairly," Ross said. "Oregon has done the right thing by making discrimination against the law."

Religious leaders also voiced support for the laws.

"At the heart of both Jewish and Christian traditions is respect for all people as children of God. In like manner, there is a strong prophetic voice for justice and fairness," said the Rev. Gail McDougle, pastor of Salem's First Congregational Church.

Should the referenda qualify, Hummel said he is confident that Oregonians will vote "yes" to uphold the laws in a November, 2008 election.

"Oregonians supported our anti-discrimination laws when they were passed and signed by the governor, they support the laws now, and they will support them next year," Hummel said.

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By Blogger wep601, at October 03, 2007 2:04 PM

Hopes dashed again! Although there is nothing yet from you all at BRO, today the Oregonian is calling our hopes a "defeat" at this point as the anti-gay efforts succeeded in gathering more than enough signatures. Now we must wait more than another whole year for these same Oregonians to VOTE "against" our new laws.
Quote: "Defense of Marriage Again and other groups that collected signatures to put a measure on the ballot overturning a new Oregon law allowing gays and lesbians to enter into domestic partnerships cleared an important hurdle Wednesday. The Secretary of State's office says its staff has determined that volunteers collected 60,531 raw signatures from registered voters."    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 04, 2007 2:32 PM

Well, since there is still no news from BRO, I am still hoping that it may mean good news awaits?    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 04, 2007 7:55 PM

The silence is NOT golden is this case. Any news from the BRO front???    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 05, 2007 9:34 AM

Agreed: Whatever happened to that “more substantive update from us early next week” that BRO promised us last Friday?

BRO’s total silence on this very important subject for a full week now is more than a little troubling.

It's not like there's been no news to report. The Portland Mercury's web site reported on an official petition count from the secretary of state two days ago.

Why the silence?    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 06, 2007 12:36 PM

Since the 10/5 update email from BRO was still very tight-lipped with no real encouragement one way or another (basically stating the signature tally that the Oregonian did), I thought we could all use a little something to think about in terms of what those "raw signatures" mean--and if there still IS any chance that our Laws may make it through w/o being put on the ballot. The Portland Mercury gives some info. on signature verification and percentages. ..."All eyes will be on the signature verification process at the secretary of state's office as staffers scrutinize the petitions. A total of 65,000 signatures leaves little room for error if the petitioners hope to make the ballot. Signature validity rates fluctuate, though volunteers generally have a higher validity rate, according to the secretary of state's office. The volunteer-led campaign to put Measure 36 on the ballot had an 86 percent validity rate, while initiatives in 2006 averaged 70.25 percent. Doing the math, that means *the anti-gay activists need to turn in _over_ 64,000 signatures and hope for a high validity rate of 86 percent* to land on the ballot (a total of 60,531 raw signatures from registered voters has been acknowledged). If their validity rate were closer to the 2006 average, they'd need to turn in nearly 79,000 signatures."
Let's try to keep sharing as much hopeful new as possible!    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 07, 2007 11:45 AM

That is encouraging info. on the signature validity rates. If that is true (and the anti-gay petitions don't have an unprecedented HIGH % of signature validity rates), we still may be able to dodge the ballot bullet! It would be nice to hear more news!    

By Blogger Brian S Varley, MS, Salem, OR, at October 09, 2007 4:49 PM

Hey... Here is an idea.... How about we start a ballot measure with a variety of groups that says the following...............

"Civil rights, protections of the individual(s), may not be defined, redefined, limited, and/or in any way restricted by a ballot measure and/or the ballot measure process. Civil rights, for the purpose of this amendment to the Oregon Constitution include, but are not limited to, the following: free exercise of religion, free expression of opinion, free speech, security in person and house and effects, freedom from unreasonable search or seizure, justice without delay, right to fair and public trial by an impartial jury, freedom from twice jeopardy for the same offense, freedom from self incrimination, freedom from unnecessary rigor if arrested or confined in jail, right to bail except in cases murder or treason, freedom from vindictive justice where punishment of crime shall be founded in reformation, freedom from excessive ball or excessive fines, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, freedom from the taking of private property for public use without just compensation, freedom from imprisonment for debt except in case of fraud or absconding debtors, freedom from any law granting privilege or immunity of any citizen or class over another, right to habeas corpus, freedom from corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate upon criminal conviction, freedom to peaceably assemble, freedom to redress grievances to the legislature, right to bear arms, freedom of any soldier quartering in any house without the owner's consent, freedom to immigrate from the state, freedom of tax and duty without the consent of the people or their representatives in the legislative assembly, freedom from construing enumeration of rights and privileges to impair or deny others retained by the people, freedom of slavery, freedom involuntary servitude except as the result of being duly convicted of a crime, and/or the right of any other freedoms, rights, expressions, or guarantees based in the bill of rights or based other areas in the Oregon Constitution or law."    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 10, 2007 9:32 AM

Thank you for the GOOD NEWS BRO (and for your tireless behind the scenes work)!
"We have just heard from the Secretary of State’s office: by the slenderest of margins - less than 1/2 of 1 percent - anti-gay groups have failed in their effort to force a public vote on Oregon’s new domestic partnership law."
This is wonderful news! Bring on the New Year!    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 16, 2007 6:51 PM

SO... will there be a new post soon with helpful info. for how to proceed with securing a domestic partnership after the first of the year? BRO was so helpful every step of the way back in 2004.    

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