Was Diane Linn's rejection a referendum on gay marriage?

During the campaign, Diane Linn's supporters often argued that her re-election race was a referendum on gay marriage -- and that lefty voters who support gay marriage should support her campaign.

Here's the Multnomah County election results from 2004 and 2006:

Measure 36 Amends Constitution: Marriage
YES  .  .  .  .  .  . 144,151   40.26
NO.  .  .  .  .  .  . 213,923   59.74
Chair of the Board of County Commissioners
Terrence R. Smyth.  .   8,015    6.83
Ted Wheeler.  .  .  .  81,740   69.64
Diane Linn .  .  .  .  27,145   23.13
WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .     474     .40

So, 186,778 voters voted No on 36 (pro-gay-marriage) and yet failed to vote for Diane Linn. Even adjusting for turnout and undervote, some 36.6% voted No on 36 and then for Ted Wheeler.

Discuss.

Comments

  • Amanda (unverified)
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    I don't think it was. I support same-sex marriage, but voted for Wheeler. Someone like Diane, who demonstrably cannot work & play well with others, is tremendously damaging to good policy, imo. I think it was her affiliation w/ the issue that got so many conservative voters out in favor of M36, rather than the issue itself. Thus, it was a referendum on her leadership, not the county electorate's support or non-support of same-sex marriage.

  • John (unverified)
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    Nice shot of the mean girls on the news at Wheeler's party cheering.

    They really are mean!

  • bluelady (unverified)
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    Wasn't much impressed with TW, but had a problem with D. She and the mean girls hearts were in the right place on gay marriage I but think the conclusion that Linn County (? or was it Lane, ?? came up with -- nobody gets licenses) was probably closer to right.

    She mishandled too many things, including one that affected a friend. Library director. Not only did she import somebody that is being paid way too much,she passed over a fine, local, in house employee because that person had defended the library's budget in public when DL was in search of reductions.

    To be fair, she got pasted on a lot of things that weren't her fault -- the relationship with the sheriff for example is just absurd--no accountability on his part at all.

    So, gay marriage probably didn't help, but it wasn't just that. A lot us of hold grudges over the small things.

  • k (unverified)
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    I voted no on 36 and yes on Ted Wheeler. They had nothing to do with each other although some would have you think otherwise.

    People are tired of the lack of ethics and accountability in government in general. Linn represented a lot of that to an awful lot of people, including me. She had more than her fair share of scandals while in office and she practically became the battle cry for anti-tax enthusiasts. That's not government at it's finest.

    In person, Wheeler comes off as honest, genuine and truly likeable. He really wants to make a positive impact on the community and make the system work again. He doesn't shy away from tough questions and he's willing to admit when he doesn't know an answer and will do the research to find out. I went to a few house parties and forums for him and was impressed every time.

  • Jesse O (unverified)
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    This was one of the least credible arguments made by BRO and those backing Diane. Ted supports gay marriage, got as far as I can tell zero support from anti-gay organizations campaigning against Diane, etc. I haven't seen anything on the national gay news sites or any other national press about it.

    It was election about competence and the need to have a county governing board that's not an embarrassment.

  • k (unverified)
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    bluelady - It was Benton County (Corvallis) that decided not to forgo licenses to everyone. Lane & Linn Counties are more conservative than Benton despite the reputation Corvallis has (which isn't accurate) and that U of O is in Lane Co (a good majority of students either don't vote or are registered in their hometowns).

  • k (unverified)
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    oops, that was forgo, "not" shouldn't be there.

  • John (unverified)
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    K - Do you the anti-tax enthusiasts like WHEELER'S FAMILY???

    The biggest scandal, I'd say - was when she pronounced the name of the Blazer's coach incorrectly. That's why I didn't vote for her!

  • Leo Schuman (unverified)
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    "Jesse 0 - This was one of the least credible arguments made by BRO and those backing Diane.

    I disagree, and have actual experience, rather than media-fed opinion, to back up my view.

    Fully allowing for the many factors playing into Diane Linn's clear defeat - and I do - anti-GLBT sentiment certainly played a role. Last Saturday I marched in the Saint Johns parade, with Diane Linn, carrying the BRO endorsement sign behind her car. The responses I received when looking at, smiling towards, or offering Diane Linn stickers to some - only some, but definitely some - people along the parade route through this historically blue collar, strongly Democratic neighborhood where I and my partner live, made their attitude towards myself, BRO, and Diane Linn painfully clear. Their negative attitudes and comments had nothing to do with her management style, and everything to do with anti-GLBT bias.

    It does no one any good to pretend there's no anti-GLBT bias in the Portland electorate, nor that Diane Linn has been anything but a very high visibility face and name associated with GLBT equality.

    Whatever Ted Wheeler may personally feel on the subject, anti-GLBT bias helped get him elected in this race.

  • Amanda (unverified)
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    Leo: I agree that there's anti-gay bias, and that for some, sure, that was their reason to "punish" Diane with their vote. But the question was whether Diane's dismal showing in the election was a referendum on same-sex marriage. I do not believe that it does.

    Of course this is pure anecdote, but so many progressives I know couldn't stomach voting for Diane because of her managerial skills (as one friend said: "do the body count."). It's as if she needs a turnstile in her office for all the high-level staff who've come and gone. That does not bespeak strong people skills. Nor does the fact that none of her colleagues on the board endorsed her--even those who clearly supported same-sex marriage. You cannot get good policy passed if you cannot get along, politically. I think that's why many agreed that she was hurting the county and voted accordingly, and why I believe that the election was, for the most part, a referendum on Diane's leadership.

  • Crystal S. (unverified)
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    It made me sad as an open and out queer woman who is pretty politically engaged to be unable to support Diane Linn. Her intentions were good, unfortunately, her decisions were simply flawed.

    I've had direct personal contact with Ted Wheeler and I voted for him because I believe he has the ability to make good decisions, build good relationships, and repair negative public perception of county issues AND be supportive of the gay community too. I think it's naive of queer folk to over simplify this and turn it into an anti-gay issue. Tina Kotek won the Dem Primary in HD44 as an out lesbian, and she did it by hitting the pavement and engaging the public along with a reputation for solid bi-partisan relationships, decision making and commons sense.

  • k (unverified)
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    John - I am not an anti-tax enthusiast; I simply stated that the anti-tax enthusiasts used Linn in their battle cries. Some of the library crowd was worried that if Linn won, they wouldn't be able to pass their next levy.

    The last thing we need is a leader at the helm is someone who encompasses so many of the things anti-taxers find wrong with government. We need someone who will instill trust in the taxpayers. Someone taxpayers can trust when they say we need more taxes for schools (which Wheeler has said he will do).

    Wheeler made it clear that he does not agree with his father politically and I believe him. His actions and the fact that many people in the nonprofit community, people that I respect greatly, more than proved to me that he is not the man Linn's supporters would have voters believe.

  • (Show?)

    My fear: Diane's move on gay marriage was the thing that spurred the criticism on everything else. It made her a target on everything she did, and the tide moved gradually and powerfully against her...with no one saying that gay marriage was the reason...and eventually with very few people pushing the tide even thinking their pushing had anything at all to do with Gay Marriage.

    I like Ted W. We shared an office, and I have big hopes for him as County Chair. But I do have this niggling concern (which kept me neutral) about the causes and effects.

    Methinks Diane needed a campaign that made desparately clear: --Fewer would have cared about snow days without the gay marriage stuff. --Few people would have cared about how she pronounced Nate McMillan's name without the gay marriage stuff.
    --Fewer people would care about the rift among County Commissioners without the gay marriage stuff (and the rift wouldn't have widened as much). --And all of the sudden the fact that she was a single mom and didn't want the Oregonian to report her family acitivity doesn't become such big news.

    To his credit (strategically and morally) Wheeler didn't go after, or even hint at, playing an anti-gay card. And the majority of Wheeler voters I don't think had LGBT on the brain. But I do wonder that he benefitted bigly from the ripple effects.

    In any event, I hope that Diane can land in a place. Whether or not she was the right fit for the County, she's a talented person. And I hope that Ted can take steps to build trust in government. (Of course, we'll still be left with the anti-public-service movement too.)

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    Oops -- I meant "land in a good place"

  • Paul Johnson (unverified)
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    Ted Wheeler got the vote of everybody I asked on the grounds that Ted Wheeler is an open source software advocate alone. When we're not following Karen Minnis' lead by shooting down open source bills that would save the state $35 million, then slashing the same out of education to pay Microsoft in software upgrades, we can get some real work done.

  • John (unverified)
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    k - He doesn't agree with his father policically? Then why was he a Republican until he decided to run for CC?

  • (Show?)

    Go Oregon as Open Source innovator!

  • k (unverified)
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    John -

    Lots of longtime Oregonians used to be Rs. Wheeler left Oregon in the 80s when people like Frohmeyer, Paulus and McCall were still respected. He didn't return until 2000/01 which means he was an R in Oregon for about a year or less, enough time to realize that the Rs of today are nothing like the Rs of yesterday.

    My God, my parents are still hanging onto their Republican status and they vote for every school tax, enviro initiative, against anti-gay initiatives and everything else. As voters they abandoned the party years ago but they have hope that someday it might go back to being moderate and sane. Of course, they'll be waiting until hell freezes over. Not every R is what you read about in the news.

    Maybe you should have gone to one of the house parties and asked him directly. He was open about it when asked at the one I attended.

  • Julie (unverified)
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    I doubt I am typical in this, but I voted for Diane Linn explicitly BECAUSE of her work on marriage equality. She was the only politician I can remember who sewed up my vote even though I didn't really want her to win. I felt she had earned it on one of the most important issues to me.

    I also wasn't all that thrilled with Wheeler's emphasis on auditing the schools. The schools perform miracles with an unstable, underfunded budget. Just give them more money already! Raise those obscenely low corporate taxes! Yell at Salem!

    But I'm kind of glad to see a change, since there were clearly serious problems, and I'm hopeful Wheeler will do a good job.

  • Lars K. Larson (unverified)
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    [Comment falsely impersonating Lars Larson deleted. -editor.]

  • Don (unverified)
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    I am as reliable a liberal voter as they come but I could not bring myself to vote for Diane. Why, it was not because of her marriage decision, I agreed with that, it was how she went about it.

    Oregon has strong public meetings laws for a reason, because we want to have transparency in government. When Diane and the other commissioners engaged in actions specifically designed to avoid violating these laws and designed to avoid Lonnie Roberts (who personally I am no fan of at all) she violated everything I believe government should be. When Ted Wheeler came along with a credible alternative, I knew I had to support him. Lesson to future Oregon poilticians, you f-k with the Open Meeting laws, you will go down.

  • BRO Watch (unverified)
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    During the campaign Multnomah County's LGBTQ community was assaulted with scare tactics not only about Wheeler's anti-gay agenda but also that if we didn't vote for Linn how could we ever expect any other elected official to ever support us again?

    BRO even told us that politicians across the country were looking at this race to see if the community could be trusted and that we needed to give Linn our vote as proof.

    But it was just politics and we're sorry to see BRO engage in such tactics. Our community should recognize candidates who support our issues, not vilify them.

    Once we discovered that Linn's campaign manager Alisa Simmons was also the chair for BRO's PAC which gave Linn their endorsement - and second largest campaign contribution - it solidified what many of us believed about this campaign.

    Our community appreciates Diane Linn and we also appreciate candidates like Wheeler who support our issues. We're sorry Basic Rights Oregon attempted to make same-sex marriage an issue in this race.

    Not only did their arguments against Wheeler not resonate with voters, it also drove a wedge between Oregon's civil rights organization and Multnomah County's new chair.

    LGBTQ Oregonians have some very pressing issues to tackle in this state in the fight for our civil rights, we don't need to spend precious time and resources making up new ones and creating these kinds of divisions.

  • (Show?)

    I worked for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, was on the board of the Lesbian Community Project and have otherwise had a long history of activism in the GLBT community. I completely applauded Diane Linn's support of gay marriage. I did, however, vote for Ted Wheeler. I think she could have done the gay marriage issue so much good if she had simply handled it with some finesse. As it stood, the controversy about the process mixed in with the controversy about the issue -- the folks so desperately striving for gay marriage didn't deserve that. In the end, Diane Linn's blind spots about process, transparency and collegiality did her in. It is terribly, terribly sad.

  • Haha (unverified)
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    BRO Watch - as on your blog, you continue to lie. Basic Rights Oregon's issues are GLBT issues. They didn't make a big deal out of it other than in the GLBT community-and honestly they simply endorsed her and supported her decision as ANY good political PAC would have done when someone went so beyond their call of duty for your cause.

    The race is over. Ted Wheeler will be the new CC. I am proud of BRO for sticking with candidates that have visibly made a difference in the fight for equality in Oregon

    As for Ted Wheeler. Even while living in Oregon since 2000, he NEVER made one donation to the No on 9 campaign, nor did he give one dollar of his millions to the No on 36 campaign.

    He NEVER did a damn thing for either of those fights. Where was he as this "proud outspoken advocate of GLBT rights"? He was just that - only talk.

    The facts are that while he sat on the board of his family's foundation that had a pot of millions and millions - he was a part of large contributions to anti-gay causes, as well as to BILL SIZEMORE.

    What a liberal?? Give me a break. It's transparent. What self-respecting person would be on the board that made the group decision to donate to those causes? Come on now. Welcome to Ted's world... Red Oregon.

  • Suzii (unverified)
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    Haha, do you have a link to the records of the foundation's donations?

  • scott (unverified)
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    Haha - The truth doesn't appear to mean much to you, it seems.

    Measure 9 occurred in '92, not in 2000. Wheeler was not in Oregon in '92.

    You don't mention that Wheeler was on the Executive Board of a company that provided same sex benefits when most companies weren't even thinking along those lines but that probably doesn't count for anything to you. It was mentioned in the "Just Out" article in case you missed it.

    BRO didn't "simply endorse" Diane, they changed the rules for Wheeler and they attacked him and implied that a vote for him was against LGBTQ causes. Had they simply endorsed Diane, I think there might have been a lot less furor in the LGBTQ community about their support of Diane. Wheeler had the support of a lot of the LGBTQ community and many were vocal about it in their letters to "Just Out".

    The Foundation thing has been discussed ad nauseum. I believe Wheeler responded to it on a previous BlueOregon blog.

    And since you seem to care so much about Blue issues, I'd like to know what you have done personally for the environment, schools, the homeless, equal rights (including racial & women's not just LGBTQ), etc. You seem to imply that a person cannot be progressive unless they support LBGTQ causes specifically with time and/or money. I know a lot of progressives that focus their specific efforts on particular issues but vote for many. Wheeler has clearly focused his efforts on the environment and homelessness. That doesn't mean he doesn't care about other issues as well. I don't see anyone claiming that Dan Saltzman, who is also wealthy, is anti-gay because he hasn't specifically supported gay causes prior to being in office (or maybe even in office).

    Should I assume you are anti-woman if you haven't given to a pro-choice cause? Should I assume you are anti-environment if you haven't given to an environmental cause? How about schools?

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    BRO Watch - Just curious... why are you maintaining your web site anonymously?

  • (Show?)

    Did anti-gay voters vote for Ted? Probably.

    But the point of looking at the numbers is to note that many, many, many pro-gay-marriage voters also voted for Ted.

    No one should draw the conclusion from Wheeler's victory that gay marriage is opposed in Portland. If many pro-gay-marrage voters voted for Ted, then it's clear the issue wasn't the deciding one.

    It had to be a referendum on something else, not gay marriage.

  • Suzii (unverified)
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    Scott, you make some good points, but Haha is correct that the OCA had an anti-gay Measure 9 on the statewide ballot in both 1992 and 2000. (And in between, "Measure 9" applied to the vote-by-mail initiative. Phil Keisling said at the time that he understood why so many people still had their "No on 9" bumper stickers from 1992, but he wished they would at least cover them up for a few months.)

  • scott (unverified)
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    Wasn't the 2000 anti-gay measure, Measure 13? I could be wrong about that.

    Regardless, Wheeler doesn't have to donate/commit time to every cause in order to support it and it's ridiculous to think so just because his father is a right-winger.

    Accusations, at this point, will get no one anywhere fast. There's been enough divisiveness on the Commission already. It seems a much better move to look forward with hope and promise and try to work together rather than contribute to the nastiness.

  • anonymous (unverified)
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    This is support:

    0 time spent volunteering on any campaigns in 1992, 1994, 2000, 2004 0 dollars to any sort of glbt organizations until he joined HRC in Jan

    Give me a break, quite honestly it's not even the money that offends me....it's the time volunteering when our community was under attack - not once, but four times.

    Where is the proof that he will stand up for our community?

  • Suzii (unverified)
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    No, the anti-gay Measure 13 was in 1994.

    Lord, there were a lot of them, weren't there?

  • Suzii (unverified)
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    Thing about Ted Wheeler is, none of us have any proof that he'll do anything, for any community. He got elected without a record of public service because people were widely convinced that Diane Linn wasn't talking to the other commissioners (or almost anybody else) and thus couldn't begin to do the job.

    People figured Ted might do well and might do poorly, but decided that was a better bet than somebody who couldn't do anything. Now, we cross our fingers and watch.

  • LT (unverified)
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    According to Official Abstract:

    1998: Adult Adoptee Measure 58 was adult adoptee measure (and the model of what Wm. S. U'ren had in mind--a genuine grass roots effort)

    Measure 60 was Measure 60 (for you VB skeptics, it carried every county).

    2000: Measure 9 was anti-gay with regard to public school instruction.

    It was the year of Sizemore overload (all lost) and McIntire's Measure 8 going down to defeat 608090 yes to 789699 no. Has he had a measure on the ballot since then? (Measure 30 was CSE.) Why does anyone take him seriously?

  • LT (unverified)
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    Woops! Measure 60 was Vote by Mail, which skeptics need to realize passed in every county.

  • Wesley Charles (unverified)
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    The question posed was, Was Diane Linn's Rejection a Referendum on Gay Marriage?

    That was followed by reminding us that MultCo voters rejected M36 by a 60-40 margin, thus answering the rhetorical question heading this thread.

    Incumbent Chair Diane Linn received fewer votes (27,125) in her county-wide effort than did Don DuPay, the marijuana cable access guy, who received 29,601 votes for sheriff!

    Diane Linn's political problems did not begin in March 2004 with the marriage license issue. Did that piss off enough Oregonians to gather (way more than) enough signatures and pass M36? Sure. But MultCo rejected M36 handily.

    Look at Linn's final days as chair leading up to election day:

    She allegedly "cooks the books" with her budget, prompting veteran money guy Dave Boyer to very publicly retire early. Then, just a week ago when her budget was going to be blown up by Boyer and others in a scheduled public hearing, she "calls in sick" and reschedules the hearing until May 23 - a week after the election.

    She allegedly alters her public-record calendar, adding and deleting items that either conceal or fabricate her activities. In that sordid story, she comically mis-identifies a deputy DA, and achieves the near-impossible: She pissed off Michael D. Shrunk, something even serial killers have difficulty doing.

    Fortunately for Ted Wheeler, he will not have to put up with the Meanest Girl of All: Serena Cruz, whose chair to the left of Ted's will be filled by either Jeff Cogen or Lew Frederick.

    Perhaps BlunderWoman can join Doper Don on cable access for some tips on cracking that 29,000 vote barrier.

    • Wes
  • (Show?)

    Earlier in the thread, I raised the issue of BRO-Watch operating completely in the shadows. Has anyone else observed a proliferation of anonymous attack sites in Oregon using Domains-by-Proxy as an anonymous registrar beginning in March? OregonCougarPlan.com is another such site.

    Does anyone know if the R's did a breakout session on using anonymous web sites as platforms for hit pieces at Dorchester? They've tried this unsuccessfully in Bernie Sanders' race in Vermont, and very successfully when Thune took out Daschle in 2004.

  • For SJP (unverified)
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    GayRightsWatch.com also uses DomainsByProxy.com, and a lot of commenters post comments without using their real names. Blogging affords an opportunity to have a discussion about issues without having to go through massive justification about whether you're important enough to be heard or not. Like a conversation that starts up in a coffeehouse or on the bus with people you've never met before. Is it so important what the person's name is? Or is it that opportunity to find out what the grassroots is feeling and thinking about issues important to them and talk it out.

  • (Show?)

    Is it so important what the person's name is?

    That all depends. In this case, the site in question appears to be engaged in a persistent pattern of polemical attacks intended to discredit Basic Rights -- apparently for electioneering purposes. I think it's an open question whether the owners of web sites that explicitly engage in electioneering in candidate races and ballot initiatives should be permitted to maintain their anonymity.

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    Librules would never hide their real identity or set up an anonymous blog, would they?

  • BRO Watch (unverified)
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    BRO Watch is less a site intended to discredit Basic Rights than an opportunity for a discussion about Oregon's LGBTQ civil rights movement and how it's being conducted by Basic Rights Oregon. We never endorsed a candidate, rather we attempted to reflect what many in the LGBTQ community were saying (a lot of what has been posted is from comments of others in the press, etc.) about the Linn/Wheeler race - among many other issues not related to the race.

    A lot of people in our community felt it unfair to conduct the campaign in the way BRO did; we specifically objected to a candidate supportive of our issues being painted as anti-gay and those among our community who would vote for him, disloyal.

    That's offensive to a lot of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, queers, our friends and family, Oregonians all, who have worked so hard to move the ball forward in this struggle for our right to be treated just like anybody else.

    As Scott said, BRO changed the rules in this race. We believe that getting the LGBTQ community and our supporters in an 'a vote for Wheeler is a vote against civil rights' fight was a mistake. Our point hasn't been that there was a need to vote for Wheeler, we've simply driven out our concerns for the way BRO's campaign has been conducted.

    We don't see an issue with having a tough discussion about where we're at in the civil rights movement in Oregon, BRO Watch will address much more than this campaign.

  • NoName (unverified)
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    Will someone please show me where the proof is that Wheeler will be supportive on our issues? There is no record. A guy who joins HRC at the onset of his campaign and has given no time doesn't tell me anything. I think that his donations to CAP are great, but how does that show his support for our rights?

    He reminds me very much of Gordon Smith. It should be interesting to see.

  • jami (unverified)
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    i just heard at a lefty-filled bbq last night that diane linn was evil because she ruined gay marriage. not the bigots who file anti-gay lawsuits and vote to keep "marriage between a man and woman" mind you. the gal who risked her political career to grant them licenses -- that's the gal who ruined it.

    she's pure evil, i tells ya! ted wheeler, the ex-republican those people all voted for, should be great. i can't wait.

  • Leo Schuman (unverified)
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    Two points of information for anyone reading comments from BRO Watch:

    1) Unlike BlueOregon, BRO Watch exerts prior restraint over which responses made to its posts, if any, appear on the site.

    2) Unlike BlueOregon, the owner(s?) behind BRO Watch are anonymous, and there is no indication whether they are actually members of Oregon's GLBT Community.

    I'm a firm believer in public dialogue, and I value the discussions here on BlueOregon. I hope BRO Watch either conforms to the standard set by Kari here on BlueOregon - visible owner(s) and uncensored responses - or shuts itself down.

  • Alan Bonney (unverified)
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    <h2>I voted for Ted Wheeler Because he strikes me as a man of Integrity. I have voted for Diane Linn in the past but am left with complete ice water in my veins as to her failed leadership over the past four years I identify as Bisexual so I am part of the "community". When I would go through Just out and read letters to the Editor or Gay opinion pieces I was appalled at what a bunch of Kool-aid drinkers we have out there it is the same type of us against them bullshit that turns me off about Bush and company I'd be a hypocrite not to be appalled by a fellow lefty doing it. I believe that when Ted Wheeler was a Republican he was more in the same mold as Tom Mc Call, Dan Evans, Mark Hatfield etc. I had Grandparents whom I disagreed with Polically but I still loved them the elections over Wheeler Rules Linn Drools Get over it.</h2>
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