Basic Rights Oregon is an American nonprofit LGBT rights organization based in Portland, Oregon. It is the largest advocacy, education, and political organization working in Oregon to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.[1] Basic Rights Oregon has a full-time staff, a contract lobbyist, and more than 10,000 contributors, and 5,000 volunteers.[2] It is a 501(c)(4) organization that maintains a 501(c)(3) education fund, a state candidate political action committee and a ballot measure PAC.[2]

Background[edit | edit source]

Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA), an organization that opposed gay rights, successfully backed the passage of a 1988 ballot measure revoking the ban on sexual-orientation discrimination in the state's executive branch.[3] In 1992, when OCA proposed a ballot measure to prohibit the "encouragement" of homosexual lifestyles in public schools,[4] Oregonians who supported LGBT rights raised over $2 million and were successful in defeating the measure. OCA continued to promote similar measures at the local level[5] and promised another statewide ballot in 1994. In response activists pressured for a stable political organization and formed Support Our Communities-PAC (SOC-PAC) in 1993. The following year, SOC-PAC successfully organized the opposition to another OCA proposal, a ballot measure to ban the recognition of homosexuals as a minority group.[6][7]

Advocacy[edit | edit source]

Basic Rights Oregon held ts first meetings in 1995 and became a 501(c)(4) organization in 1996.[8]

In 2002, Basic Rights Oregon endorsed Democratic candidate Bill Bradbury for election to the United States Senate, opposing the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT rights organization, which endorsed the re-election of the Republican incumbent Gordon H. Smith.[9]

In 2004, Basic Rights Oregon, nine same-sex couples, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Multnomah County joined as plaintiffs against the State of Oregon, the Governor, the Attorney General, the Director of the Department of Human Services, and the State Registrar in a suit, Li v. State, in the Oregon Supreme Court seeking a declaration that the statutes (ORS chapter 106) prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying on the same terms as different-sex couples violated the Oregon Constitution.[10]

In 2004, Basic Rights Oregon worked against Ballot Measure 36, which amended the Oregon Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. Although Basic Rights Oregon raised nearly $3 million to fight the measure, it passed with 57% in favor and 43% opposed.

Basic Rights Oregon is currently teaming up with the Oregon Student Equal Rights Alliance to organize GLBT students at Oregon's colleges and universities. Working together the two collectives helped win two major victories this legislative session: the passage of the Oregon Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the Oregon Family Fairness Act, which grants domestic partnerships rights to same-sex couples.

When the state formed an inter-agency work group to implement the Family Fairness Act, the only member other than departments of the state government was BRO, which, according to the working group's report, "worked to identify many of the issues facing registered domestic partners in Oregon."[11]

When anti-immigration legislation in California appeared to be inspiring similar efforts in Oregon, BRO reached out to PCUN, the Oregon farmworkers' union, and also the state's largest Latino organization, to offer its support in the fight against discrimination.[1]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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