Let's face it, it hasn't been a great couple of years for gay and lesbian rights. After a rapid series of crushing disappointments—from Measure 36's victory to Senate Bill 1000's defeat—the movement is now shifting into a period of self-reflection. Activists hope to examine what strategies worked (pretty much none) and what the future of the fight will look like.
The closure of the 2005 state legislative session brought with it a pause to political options for issues like nondiscrimination and relationship equality. The next session won't convene until January 2007 and the soonest a civil unions ballot measure could be floated is in 2006.
Basic Rights Oregon (BRO), the organization that brought you same-sex marriage (briefly), as well as the No On 36 Campaign and SB1000, is using this lull to solicit input from its supporters. Ostensibly, this information will set a direction for civil rights for the next few years. The move is significant, as BRO, on occasion, has been accused of not seeking community input in their decision-making process. (The survey can be taken at www.basicrights.org; but hurry—it's only open until Friday.)
But already BRO seems to be tipping its hand about one major project it plans to undertake: Removing Republican House Speaker Karen Minnis from office. During this past session, Minnis used her position to sidetrack and ultimately kill two separate civil union bills. BRO's next planned event and fundraiser is called "Stick It To Minnis." And in their survey, under the heading of "what priorities should we focus on for the next two years," removing Minnis from office is the first possible answer.
But whether BRO spends its time and money on statewide electoral politics or municipal anti-discrimination ordinances, erstwhile pro-gay rival organization Love Makes a Family (LMAF) is already pushing its strategy for an eventual equality ballot measure. By being as visible in the community as possible, LMAF hopes to change the minds of Oregonians who voted for Measure 36. Their next event will be a booth at the Oregon State Fair starting later this week.
"We're not going to solve this [relationship in-equality] with any quick maneuvers," LMAF Executive Director Bonnie Tinker says. "We've got to get out and talk to people."
LMAF is looking for volunteers to help fill out the booth schedule. The office can be contacted at 228-3892.