2005-09-15

Log Cabin Oregon

Previous post on Log Cabin here:
Patrick Guerriero Addresses Basic Rights Oregon

Prospective members of the nascent Oregon chapter of Log Cabin Republicans gathered at a home in Portland on the afternoon of September 11. I didn't do an exact count, but there were at least a dozen to fifteen of us there. We also had a reporter from the local gay weekly, Just Out, as well as two (non-gay) members of College Republicans.

Log Cabin's western field director Jeff Bissiri was the featured guest. Jeff stressed the importance of visibility and activism - "Republicans need to see us," he said, and recalled Log Cabin's impact in California on politicians who had "never before been lobbied by gay Republicans."

Many Oregonians are familiar with the campaign for Oregon Senate Bill 1000, which would have toughened anti-discrimination legislation and legalized civil unions statewide. Basic Rights Oregon played a central role in organizing support for the legislation. SB1000 earned strong support in the Oregon legislature, including support from State Senator Ben Westlund, a conservative Republican from Bend. Westlund had supported Amendment 36 (which banned gay marriage) but also supported SB1000, which passed in the Senate and would likely have passed in the House as well. Ultimately, the SB1000 campaign was derailed by Oregon House Speaker Karen Minnis, who employed a procedural subterfuge to gut the bill before it was signed into law.

I was among the activists who traveled to Salem to show support for the bill. The group was, of course, overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic, but I sensed an eagerness for dialog, especially among the younger people.

Log Cabin believes that gay activists can and must reach the moderate and conservative voices among our citizens and our elected representatives. Ultimately we seek nothing more nor less than fairness and equality. As Patrick Guerriero said, "The goal of Log Cabin is to go out of business." We are working toward the day when being a gay American - or a gay Republican - will be neither a handicap nor a curiosity. We're not there yet.