SISTERS OF THE ROAD could be on the verge of withdrawing from the mayor's controversial Street Access for Everyone (SAFE) committee—which has been responsible for overseeing the enforcement of the sit-lie ordinance since it was enacted on August 30 last year. The nonprofit plans to hold a press conference on the steps of city hall—against the backdrop of the homeless protest—on Thursday morning, May 8, after the SAFE committee's meeting.
The mayor's office has claimed all along that the ordinance is not aimed at homeless people, but rather at ensuring that the sidewalks are unobstructed for everyone. But if Sisters were to withdraw its support for the SAFE committee, the city would have a much tougher time claiming the sit-lie ordinance is fair. Of the 88 warnings and citations given between August 30, 2007 and January 22, 2008, 79 were given to people who were identified as homeless, "transient," or no address was listed. MD
ANTI-GAY ACTIVISTS got good news last week: Their appeal in a federal lawsuit challenging the Oregon Secretary of State's signature verification process was granted "expedited review" by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on April 29—which means the court could decide in the activists' favor, and put a referendum of Oregon's new domestic partnership law on this November's ballot. Briefs in the case are due by June 10, and the case could be decided by July.
Federal Judge Michael Mosman originally ruled against the anti-gay group on February 1, after hearing arguments that the signature verification process unfairly tossed out invalid signatures (the domestic partnership referendum petition fell just a few signatures short of the 55,179 valid signatures required). Domestic partnerships immediately went into effect, and same-sex couples across the state have registered as partners, gaining the same state-sanctioned rights and responsibilities of marriage that opposite-sex couples enjoy. AJR
Web exclusive! Check out portlandmercury.com for more news, including Andrew R. Tonry's interview with presidential hopeful Ralph Nader, who's slated to speak at Benson High School on Tuesday, May 13 at 7:30 pm.