Letters to the Editor 

BASIC RIGHTS OREGON: "WE DON'T SUCK"

TO THE EDITOR: Throughout the last year, the Mercury and Scott Moore have frequently reported on the No on 36 Campaign, Basic Rights Oregon and same-sex marriage in stories riddled with assumptions, bias and ignorance about the issue, the organization, and the legislative and political process. When the Mercury has spoken with us about these issues, BRO's positions or our activities, the stories have been inaccurate and left out complete facts and details. But the truth is that most of the Mercury's reporting on BRO's activities has taken place without the Mercury ever even bothering to contact BRO for comment, explanation or answers.

The Mercury's characterization of BRO as "gay-placent," "slinking back into the closet," "begging for equal rights," and "standing aside as Republicans push for unfair civil unions" is unfair and categorically untrue. Of course, Scott Moore knows that because this time he actually called us and got a detailed explanation of our legislative plan and strategy directly from Roey Thorpe, but didn't report that in his story either because he didn't care to be accurate, didn't understand it, or just thought it might not make us seem as "complacent" if he reported on all that we ARE doing. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Rebekah is accidentally attributing quotes made by Wm. Steven Humphrey to Scott Moore… but no big whoop.]

BRO is neither throwing its hands up in defeat nor passively standing aside this legislative session. BRO's primary goal this year, among many others, is to enact the most comprehensive relationship recognition bill allowable under the Oregon constitution and we are working with key legislative allies to accomplish that. Being the first to introduce a bill doesn't make you the de facto winner in the Oregon legislature--having the BEST bill and the BEST strategy for getting it passed does.

The suggestion that Basic Rights Oregon is somehow less committed to full equality for GLBT Oregonians than the Mercury or anyone else is absolutely absurd. Equally ridiculous is the idea that BRO would ever simply hand over control of any civil unions legislation to Republicans and Tim Nashif. In case there is any doubt, let me be clear: Basic Rights Oregon will be fighting for a bill that includes ALL of the rights, responsibilitie, and protections of marriage for same-sex couples and remains unyielding that nothing less than full equality is acceptable.

What is also now clear is that whether the Mercury has the facts from BRO or not, it will report what it wants, even if it is incomplete or untrue. My advice: if readers want to know what Basic Rights Oregon is doing or not doing, don't get that news from the Mercury.

Rebekah Kassell,

Communications Director,

Basic Rights Oregon

SCOTT MOORE RESPONDS: Thanks for your letter. First, despite your claim, you and I had conversations on an almost weekly basis during the campaign--and I never heard any complaints about the accuracy of those stories. In retrospect, if by "inaccurate" you mean "not inclined to parrot the campaign's talking points," I can accept that criticism.

After the campaign, as the debate switched to the courtroom, my primary contact on the marriage equality side was David Fidanque and the ACLU, which headed up the legal battle, and other attorneys involved in the case. Additionally, during that time many of the stories I wrote didn't even involve BRO, but rather Tim Nashif and the Defense of Marriage Coalition, so contacting you would have been nonsensical, unless you believe that BRO must weigh in on any story involving gay and lesbian rights.

Finally, as for the most recent story [News, "An Unholy Union," Dec 30], Roey Thorpe never mentioned that BRO would be pushing for full marriage equality under a civil union framework this session; instead, she said exactly what was printed in the Mercury--that the organization would wait until the Supreme Court decision to make choices on direction and compromises. Also, you claim that I didn't report that BRO was working with legislators when, in fact, I wrote that the organization was "working with legislative allies--most notably Senate Democratic leader Kate Brown--on a possible bill that would presumably be more comprehensive than Westlund's plan." The point was that Westlund and Nashif, by jumpstarting the public discussion on specific legislation this term, have been able to "fashion the tenor of the argument over civil unions and, perhaps ultimately, the legislation." I never claimed that being first with a bill means they will win, simply that they are now framing the discussion, and that civil rights activists should, at the very least, get nervous.

In the end, though, you make a good point. Readers might be better served by other publications--if all they are looking for is uncritical, unquestioning boosterism.

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