Anti-GLBT Measures Fail to Qualify for 2008 Ballot in Oregon

by Admin

Secretary of State Determines Not Enough Valid Signatures Gathered

WASHINGTON - On October 12, Oregon's Secretary of State announced that anti-GLBT organizers failed to submit enough valid signatures to force a referendum vote on the Oregon Equality Act, a new law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. On October 9, the Secretary of State had announced that anti-GLBT groups failed to submit enough valid signatures to force a similar vote on the Oregon Family Fairness Act, a new law establishing domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.

"The Human Rights Campaign celebrates this news and congratulates Basic Rights Oregon and all Oregonians who believe in equality. The fact that opponents of equality could not gather enough signatures to meet the low threshold speaks volumes," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "These important laws help advance equality and it's great news that efforts to undo them before they even had a chance to work have failed."

Opponents of the new laws hoped to place referenda on the 2008 ballot. 55,179 signatures were required for each of the two petitions in order for the measures to be put before voters. The Secretary of State reported that 53,875 valid signatures were submitted for the petition that sought to undo the Oregon Equality Act. The petition seeking to roll back the Oregon Family Fairness Act fell short by 116 signatures.

If enough valid signatures had been submitted, the new laws would have been suspended until after the November 2008 election. Since the signature-gathering efforts failed, the new laws will now become effective January 1, 2008.

Oregon will become the tenth state, along with the District of Columbia, to provide some form of relationship recognition to same-sex couples, ranging from a limited reciprocal beneficiary law in Hawaii to marriage equality in Massachusetts. The Oregon Family Fairness Act is one of the stronger relationship recognition laws, providing committed same-sex couples who enter in domestic partnerships all the rights, responsibilities, and benefits provided to married couples under state law.

Oregon will also become the twelfth state, plus D.C., to prohibit employment discrimination based on gender identity and the twentieth, plus D.C., to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Oregon Equality Act also prohibits discrimination in housing and public accommodations.

Anti-equality groups may try again to repeal the laws, but would face a higher hurdle. Opponents of the laws would have to submit about 82,000 signatures by July 2008 in order to place measures before voters on the 2008 ballot.

The Human Rights Campaign is proud to have partnered with Basic Rights Oregon in 2007 to pass these two important pieces of pro-equality legislation. HRC looks forward to continuing to work with Basic Rights Oregon, and HRC members in Oregon, to achieve equality.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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