Is the electoral fight against gay rights finally over?

Kristin Teigen

Shall we all get on our “way back when” glasses? Let’s all go way back to 1988, when Oregon’s organized anti-gay movement began in force with the passage of Ballot Measure 8, which overturned then-Governor Goldschmidt’s executive order banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in state agencies.

That was the beginning of a string of viscous anti-gay ballot measures that cost fair-minded Oregonians millions of dollars and countless hours of campaigning against hate. In 1992, the growing Oregon Citizen’s Alliance, led by Lon Mabon, placed a measure on the ballot equating homosexuality with, among other things, pedophilia. It failed statewide but spawned a series of successful local measures called the Sons of 9.

More measures followed – Measure 13 in 1994 and another Measure 9 in 2000. The only statewide measure that has been successful in Oregon since 1988 was 2004’s anti-gay marriage Measure 36, which shamefully wrote discrimination into our state constitution. Also in 2004, Karl Rove took a page from Mabon’s playbook, effectively placing anti-gay marriage measures on the ballot in those states in which it was essential for the Far Right to turn out for Bush.

But now, is it over? A recent article in Just Out predicts that for one of the first times in decades, Far Right, anti-gay efforts to secure a place on Oregon’s ballot during a major election will fail. They have no money, the message has run its course, the leaders have been proven to be corrupt buffoons, and the Right is more divided than ever. Are we finally done?

This year, we also saw the roaring power of Oregon's gay rights movement . After a tremendous legislative effort, Governor Kulongoski signed the Oregon Family Fairness Act, extending domestic partnership to same sex couples, as well as Oregon Equality Act, banning discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

If we are done with electoral assaults, we are left with a silver lining. Oregon has won a well-deserved reputation for creating effective and innovative strategies to fight the Right. In 1998, when I was working for NOW in Washington, DC, I decided to move back to Oregon because this was where it was all happening. I started immediately working for Basic Rights Oregon, which was then and still is one of the largest and most effective statewide gay and lesbian organizations in the country.

Most importantly, the gay and lesbian movement in Oregon helped to teach the rest of the country about the importance of building coalitions across urban/rural, religious, gender, sexual orientation and racial lines. No matter who you were in the state, you knew where you stood. If someone still doesn’t, perhaps they should move out of the cave.

Of course, just because there is no ballot measure does not mean there is no homophobia. Just look at the recent Nike ad. Also, Just Out reports on a new group, Watchmen on the Walls, that has brought together potentially violent homophobes and is now meeting weekly. As progressives, there is no letting down our guard -- we must remain committed to fighting any incarnation of hate, ignorance and oppression.

So, do you agree that the electoral fight is over? What do you think is to come?

Comments

  • (Show?)

    All the homophobes need is one major donor to fund ballot measure fights. They're not well organized, they're not together, they're not politically sophisticated.

    But as long as all it takes is a few hundred thousand dollars to pay signature gatherers to deceive petition signers and get something on the ballot, we'll have more ballot fights over some aspect or another of equal rights.

    And while rafting the Deschutes this weekend, the call (from other rafts) to people who weren't cool was "If you don't do it, you're gay." Sigh. A long, long road to hoe.

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    I wish we were done. But all the homophobes need is one major donor to fund ballot measure fights.

    They're not well organized, they're not together, they're not politically sophisticated. But as long as all it takes is a few hundred thousand dollars to pay signature gatherers to deceive petition signers and get something on the ballot, we'll have more ballot fights over some aspect or another of equal rights.

    And while rafting the Deschutes this weekend, the call (from other rafts) to people who weren't cool was "If you don't do it, you're gay." Sigh.

    We've made progress, but it's a long, long journey ahead.

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    OH, and I should have mentioned that BlueOregon's own Kari Chisholm is quoted in the Just Out article. Another reason to read it.

  • Joseph (unverified)
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    I do not disagree with your message. We have made a lot of progress and there is still a lot of progress left to be made. However, I really do think it's a stretch to point at that W+K Nike ad and say that is homophobia. How is that any different from looking at that recent Rachel Ray ad and calling that pro-terrorism?

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    Editor's note: I've updated the headline a bit to provide more context. The previous headline was simply, "Are We Finally Done?"

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    Well, I don't want to get off track debating an ad, but it did depict one man with another man's penis in his face with the quote "that ain't right!" Not, "gee that's maybe awkward since these two nice men just met" or "wow, this is hot" but something that was quite wrong.

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    But Joseph, I do agree that the gay rights movement has perhaps bigger fish to fry than Nike...

  • Marshall Collins (unverified)
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    I think we have come a long way and we are finally winning some of the bigger battles but the war is far from over. I agree with Evan that more than anything these people are really just lacking funding at this point. Apparently they haven't been impressing Loren Parks enough to get him to fork over some dough. Which is really sad considering his standard for who he donates to doesn't seem to be all that high. The passage of SB2 and HB2007 have brought great rewards to the GLBT community in oregon but it has also created many questions and opened many doors. Issues regarding adoption, healthcare, inheritance rights, surrogacy arrangments, taxes and other such issues while supposedly "covered" under HB2007 are still in the gray. As these issues emerge you can bet we will see the same players on the other side trying to cause problems. It seems that in more than a few states now the battle cry of the right has now turned to gay parenting. It wasn't enough to ensure we couldn't get married, now they are wanting to take away our kids or prevent us from having any. As sad and frusterating as it is I would be willing to put money on the bet that is where the crazies in our state try going after us next.

  • LiberalIncarnate (unverified)
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    I have told people that in 1992, I lost in innocence with Measure 9. I had grown up in LA in a "live and let live" culture and had never encountered any dramatic bigotry. There is no forgiveness for the spiritual and psychological "rape" that these anti-human rights bigots have done to anyone. NONE.

    It is true, we have come along way, but the war is far from over. This is a war of attrition. The more involved the younger generation becomes in civil rights, the better it will become. The more bigots die of old age or sheer frustration from years of fighting, the better it will become. Time is on our side.

  • (Show?)

    Kari -- Thanks for the title change -- I didn't want to sound like the Just Out article but you found a great way -- I changed one word again, though from "over gay rights" to "against gay rights" just to avoid using "over" twice...

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    As long as there are ignorant people in the world who feel that they need to control others and need to butt into others lives in order to 'save' them, the fight is, and never will be, over. There will always be at least one or two uptight people out there who have the money and the outright arrogance to force feed their agenda down our throats.

    It will never be over. The ones who die off always have those who they have 'taught' their views to.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    "I lost in innocence with Measure 9"

    Same here. I thought that when the public said no, we menat it. But the idiots who sponsored 9 sent another one like it to be voted on 2 years later...and again 2 years after that. I got so sick of this arrogance that I just voted NO on everything that they put forth, and eventually voted NO on everything around it since then, except in very rare cases. Until people use common sense (which some people now adays belive that those two words are now an oxy-moron)with respect to the initiative system, it's NO, NO, NO.

  • (Show?)

    The reaction to the Nike ad is over-the-top, IMHO. Mostly because it ass-u-me(s) a context which ain't necessarily legit.

    By contrast, the current Jack-in-the-box ad showing that slightly overweight sweaty guy ordering a fruit drink while obliviously stretching out doesn't seem to have struck a nerve despite the fact that the guy at the table next to him has an extremely unhappy look on his face while looking straight at the other patron's crotch.

    All that aside... I don't think the electoral fight over/against gay rights is anywhere close to being over. Nor is that necessarily where we ought to focus. As LiberalIncarnate observes, things are improving and much of it seems to revolve around the more accepting attitudes of the newest generations.

    That's half of the picture. The other half is the incrimental progress being gained on behalf of LGBT rights. Which I would argue is critical in resetting the perceived goalposts for the up and coming generations as they reach voting age. As progress is achieved the choices of the preceeding generations appear less and less acceptable to more and more citizens.

  • meg (unverified)
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    There has never been a basketball player of any persuasion who wants another man's groin to end up in his face during a dunk on the court. Never. Not gays, not blacks, not Asians, not women, not any player who has ever played the game. That was the idea behind Nike's advertising slogan created by the Wieden and Kennedy advertising agency. Go back and look at every top dunk of the past fifteen years. A large percentage of those ended up looking exactly like the imagery used in this advertising campaign. It's an iconic image, one that's neither homophobic nor racist. And every single person who got upset about this should go stand in a public park and get dunked on repeatedly. Gay or straight, sweaty balls to the face ain't fun. Look, we all know that taking offense is our new national pastime. But what should the corporate response be when the people who take offense don't even understand what they're offended about?

  • Christine Lewis (unverified)
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    We are lucky here in Oregon to have a progressive base that, for the most part, understands "gay rights" should include the entire LGBT (queer) community. A great coalition of folks worked hard in the past few years to pass statewide transgender-inclusive non-discrimination policy, and many local jurisdictions already had policy that includes gender identity.

    The Just Out article mentioned that at the national level transgender-inclusive policy is not getting passed. The story did not include current efforts in Maryland to repeal transgender-inclusive non-discrimination policy on the county level. Enough signatures were filed to put the repeal on the ballot, and Basic Rights Mongomery has formed to stand up for equality and fairness for transgender residents of the county.

    I bring this up not because Maryland is Oregon, but because it may be a sign of a switch in strategy- where they know they can't win against the united LGBT community, they will try to break it apart. This is the first measure specifically targeting transgender rights, and I hope it will be the last. Let's make sure this does not happen in Oregon.

  • (Show?)

    Holy Moly... Meg for President!

    I didn't have the courage to attempt an authoritative rebuttal, mostly because I was only ever on the periphery of basketball - preferring other sports. But that's a spot-on rebuttal from Meg.

    I don't know how many remember the 1992 NBA finals game in Chicago when Michael Jordon absolutely took Clyde the Glide to school, but it was the same basic thing. Only most of it took place outside of the key so nobody mistook Jordon making Drexler look like he was WAY out of his league as somehow being a slight against gays. But it was the same damn thing! It had to have been incredibly embarrassing for Clyde! It's no different for the playing getting slam-dunked on.

    Next year when the NBA draft rolls around pay attention to the player stats of those in the draft. Vertical leap is hugely important for the same reason that this Nike ad isn't anti-gay.

  • anon (unverified)
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    But as long as all it takes is a few hundred thousand dollars to pay signature gatherers to deceive petition signers and get something on the ballot

    Whatever.

    Anyone paying attention knows that Measure 36 was gathered completely by volunteers. Same with Measure 9 back in 2000.

    They don't need money to make the ballot, they just need churches chock full of ignorant haters.

    Our Oregon should start exposing these hate-group churches.

  • (Show?)
    meg wrote: "There has never been a basketball player of any persuasion who wants another man's groin to end up in his face during a dunk on the court. Never. Not gays, not blacks, not Asians, not women, not any player who has ever played the game.

    To pretend Wieden+Kennedy was not aware of the sexual innuendo in this ad campaign seriously underestimates that firm's intelligence, and shows some naivete about the sophistication of the public relations and advertising industry. These people are paid millions to carefully analyze and craft the explicit and implied messages they deliver. They knew this image would grab attention and remain in memory (as it has, obviously), so they used it.

  • (Show?)

    Doesn't the notion that crotch + face = sexual thoughts imply that gays aren't capable of being athletically competitive for the sake of athletic competition sans sexuality?

    Get a couple of competitive weekend warrior type hetero guys and put them on the beach across the net from a couple top female beach volleyball players and I guarantee that sexual thoughts associated with the bikinis the women are wearing will soon be the furthest thing from those guys minds as the sheer competitive desire to not get bested takes over.

    Seems to me that folks who filter sexuality into stuff that isn't sexual are saying more about themselves then they are about whatever they've read sexuality into.

  • (Show?)

    If there's no male-on-male sexual innuendo intended in Nike's Hyperdunk and related ad campaigns, as some in this thread believe, then what exactly is the point of the references to "Bavarian white sausage on white bread, with sweet mustard" starting at 1:21 in this clip (in a dunk, white Leroy rams his crotch in Terry's face during a dunk, immediately after which Terry begins day-dreaming about "Bavarian white sausage" with Leroy's face super-imposed over it ...):

    Nike Hyperdunk and Terry's Bavarian White Sausage

    The ad closes with the phone number for the "Hyperdunk Recovery Center" (877-DUNKD-ON) which asks people to visit their local NikeTown.

  • (Show?)
    Kevin wrote: "Seems to me that folks who filter sexuality into stuff that isn't sexual are saying more about themselves then they are about whatever they've read sexuality into"

    Kevin, please read my prior post, follow the link, watch the ad, and then decide if you want to repeat this accusation.

  • meg (unverified)
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    Leo, saw the your link. Comedy.

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    Leo, it wasn't meant to be targeted at you - it was more of a general observation. One which I regretted including after I'd hit "post" because, in hindsight, I think it muddied my point rather than enhanced it.

    The innuendo referring to various reproductive body parts doesn't automatically make it about sex acts. Again I'll point to the Jack-in-the-box ad. The proffered negativity in that ad isn't over the body part per se... it's over the sweaty state of said body part. The Nike ad is the same but in an utterly different context.

    Having lived in Europe briefly when I was younger it seems to me that the common thread in the Nike & JITB ads is the America obsession with personal hygiene and covering up body odors, blocking sweat, etc.

    I had no idea how differently we view such things until I lived in Europe and found a profoundly different take on personal hygiene. As a hetero guy I will say that it took a while to get used to the idea that the hot women/girls I saw and talked to probably hadn't bathed in a day or two. Living in a college dorm, it took even more getting used to the ever present smell of stale sweat obfuscated (poorly, as often as not) by copious amounts of colonge on the non-American guys I lived with.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Winston Churchill had a phrase about a particular early victory in WWII, "This is not the end, it is not the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning".

    In maybe 1993 I went out to lunch with 2 friends visiting from Deschutes County. One had a story about the weekend before the vote on Measure 9. He had gone to church with his wife at a church known to be on the conservative end of the spectrum--Church Foursquare or something like that. He told of a stunning sermon. The minister began by saying it was a hard sermon to write, and some members might leave and never return. But he had to give it anyway. The theme was "I have searched the Scriptures and I cannot find any justification for Measure 9".

    At the time, I thought of the Winston Churchill quote. Turned out to be true. And in the meantime, people who might not have been comfortable with gays but developed a loathing for Mabon et al moved in their thinking.

  • (Show?)

    I would like to direct all future discussion about the Nike ad to yesterday's post by Dan Petegorsky that's actually about that ad -- rather than this post that's about the anti-gay political movement. Thanks, folks.

  • (Show?)

    Kari-- ditto. It's one line in an otherwise lengthy post, folks.

  • (Show?)

    Is this post a joke? Did Measure 36 suddenly just drop off the lawbooks? Try setting up a repeal initiative, and you'll see whether the electoral fight against gay rights is over or not. What's perhaps even more disturbing is that some apparently feel that with civil unions and anti-discrimination, the job of securing gay rights is done, or that we can forgive even our Democratic legislators for weaseling on actual equality.

  • (Show?)

    Is that comment a joke?

    Simply read the post and you will see that in no place did I suggest that the fight for gay rights is over. How blatantly offensive. I simply brought up a question about where folks think the Far Right is at -- what with not been able to muster a fight against the domestic partnership.

    So, since you also think that the Democratic legislators "weasled" this year in presenting two significant pieces of legislation, will you please provide, very specifically, the legislative and legal plan that you suggest is an alternative for getting rid of Measure 36. Please. Very, very specifically. Who will sponsor it? Who will advance it? How will YOU make it so?

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    "Simply read the post and you will see that in no place did I suggest that the fight for gay rights is over. How blatantly offensive. I simply brought up a question about where folks think the Far Right is at -- what with not been able to muster a fight against the domestic partnership."

    You asked the question whether the fight AGAINST gay rights was over. My reply was that all one needs to do to answer that question is to begin fighting for truly equal rights, and that to compartmentalize "gay rights" into those that can be politically secured now vs those that likely cannot be, is to dimunize the importance of the latter. To ask whether the right wing is done fighting, is to suggest that marriage equality is not part of that fight.

    So, since you also think that the Democratic legislators "weasled" this year in presenting two significant pieces of legislation, will you please provide, very specifically, the legislative and legal plan that you suggest is an alternative for getting rid of Measure 36. Please. Very, very specifically. Who will sponsor it? Who will advance it? How will YOU make it so?

    Isn't that rather the point--not even Democrats are apparently willing to fight for marriage equality? Otherwise there would BE a sponsor, and leadership that would advance it. Regardless, why would what I might do, have anything to do with whether legislators are dropping the ball on it? But to specifically answer your question, the first way to "make it so" is apparently to remind self-congratulatory folks that there's work left to be done.

  • (Show?)

    But to specifically answer your question, the first way to "make it so" is apparently to remind self-congratulatory folks that there's work left to be done.

    What makes you so sure that they're not already fully aware that there's work left to be done?

    Your strident purity trolling on this subject has never made sense to me. Does the fact that they're only in the first Quarter of play mean that a basketball team can't celebrate a particularly good slamdunk on the opposing team's star player? Can't a slugger and his team mates celebrate a Home Run in the 1st Inning? The game isn't won yet and they all damn well know it.

    You seriously need to get some perspective.

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    "What makes you so sure that they're not already fully aware that there's work left to be done?"

    One needn't be unaware to be reminded. Ask Mrs. Joe whether my being aware the lawn needs mowing, obviates the need to remind me.

    Your strident purity trolling on this subject has never made sense to me. Does the fact that they're only in the first Quarter of play mean that a basketball team can't celebrate a particularly good slamdunk on the opposing team's star player? Can't a slugger and his team mates celebrate a Home Run in the 1st Inning? The game isn't won yet and they all damn well know it.

    Is this column headlined "Is the electoral fight against gay rights finally HALF OVER?" Does "over" ever mean the 1st inning?

    And of course they can celebrate it, but supposing the other team is done playing because of it, makes little sense.

    At least we can be reassured that in your view, the idea of advocating for marriage equality is simply purity trolling. By the way, did the definition of that phrase ever reach your mailbox, along with Steve Maurer's? Sounds like I might need an extra stamp next time.

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    And as an aside, the practice of the best running back in the history of pro football was never to celebrate, but to hand the ball to the official. Why? As Lou Holtz said, "act like you've been there before."

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    Ditto what Kevin said. Besides, TJ, you're still missing the point. There is nothing in what I said that diminishes the marriage fight -- we still can and should fight for that proactively and put initiatives on the ballot as gay rights activists. But the post is about whether the Right still has any strength to battle AGAINST marriage rights all on their own as a means of keeping the gay rights movement on the defensive.

    To diminish what has been accomplished this year is to not recognize a fundamental shift in Oregon's glbt community. For years, we have been on the defensive. For one of the first years in a long time, the glbt community is actually in a position to set the agenda. To bash that is to bash the work of extremely talented activists who rightfully have marriage rights as part of their over-all plan.

    What I find so irritating is, as Kevin described, purity trolls who don't seem to have the willingness to work with the Democratic Party to advance an agenda but rather seem to think that social change comes simply by bashing others.

  • (Show?)

    And my definition of purity troll is not those who fight for marriage rights, but those who criticize those who are actually doing the work for not moving fast enough. If you think the glbt community, as it has fought for the offensive and this year's laws, are not also committed to the marriage fight, you are wrong.

  • (Show?)
    But the post is about whether the Right still has any strength to battle AGAINST marriage rights all on their own as a means of keeping the gay rights movement on the defensive.

    That's certainly not what the title says or implies. Is the goal of the LGBTQQ community really to simply avoid being attacked? Otherwise, who cares whether the anti-gay community are on their heels or not? What's that got to do with whether the fight against rights is over--since as evidenced by Measure 36 still being on the books, it clearly isn't? The power of the LGBTQQ community to "get off the defensive" has never been with the antigay movement, but within themselves.

    For one of the first years in a long time, the glbt community is actually in a position to set the agenda. To bash that is to bash the work of extremely talented activists who rightfully have marriage rights as part of their over-all plan.

    They were ALWAYS in a position to set their agenda; that they spent so long letting others do it is part of the problem. An agenda is not synonymous with a winning agenda; Democrats generally continue to suffer from the Catch-22 that they only fight battles they think they can win, so they never do any work to get more battles to that place.

    If you think the glbt community, as it has fought for the offensive and this year's laws, are not also committed to the marriage fight, you are wrong.

    No, I'm definitely not wrong; look who BRO endorses. A group that is committed to the marriage fight, rather than electoral payback or fear of electoral retribution, would endorse the candidate that openly supports marriage equality and stands by it proudly. Endorsing Merkley and GORDON SMITH, for heaven's sake, does not indicate a very strong committment to marriage rights to me.

    I'm not criticizing anyone for not moving fast enough. I'm criticizing the idea of declaring your foe vanquished at halftime, when you're still down by two touchdowns.

  • (Show?)

    Did I declare them vanquished? No. I asked a question.

    " Is the goal of the LGBTQQ community really to simply avoid being attacked?" NO! Jeebus. That is the whole friggin point of being happy this year -- things have shifted.

    When did BRO endorse Gordon Smith?

    And when you say that those being attacked are to blame for being attacked "They were ALWAYS in a position to set their agenda; that they spent so long letting others do it is part of the problem." is so outrageously obnoxious I think that you have missed the point BIG TIME.

    You cannot paint yourself as an ally to us if you even for a second believe that.

    You've so completely misread the post that I don't even think you're arguing about it anymore.

  • (Show?)
    Torridjoe wrote: "[The LGBT community] were ALWAYS in a position to set their agenda; that they spent so long letting others do it is part of the problem."

    This statement betrays such gross ignorance of LGBT political and social history, and political dynamics in general, that I'm not even sure where to begin refuting it.

    So, considering the source, I won't bother. I'll just comment that "you should walk a mile inside another person's shoes before presuming to criticize them".

    Thanks, Kristin, for raising important questions in this post. Sorry I got led off-target there, mid-thread.

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    Leo,

    You're welcome, and thanks back to you for helping refute such tremendous ignorance.

  • (Show?)
    Torridjoe wrote: "What's perhaps even more disturbing is that some apparently feel ... that we can forgive even our Democratic legislators for weaseling on actual equality."

    What a load of crap. Oregon's Democrats in Salem took huge strides on behalf of the LGBT community in 2007, and they deserve thanks, recognition, VOTES, DONATIONS, and CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEERS for their years of effort leading to the Oregon Equality and Family Fairness Acts. Not ignorant pot-shots from the peanut gallery.

    (... I really, really hope a "modding" feature gets implemented on this site.)

  • (Show?)

    FWIW, following up on Leo's last, some research I've been doing in connection with trying to get a peace/anti-war caucus going in Multnomah County, under the DPO Peace Caucus, led me to discover the LGBT Caucus is the largest caucus in the DPO. I'm sure there's a reciprocity between that fact and the results of the 2007 legislative session.

    It seems to me that part of what is at stake here is the difference between thinking of politics as a set of positions and thinking of it as a process. Assessing the strength of an opponent is part of moving to a new phase in a process and developing a new strategy appropriate to it, which is one reason Kristin's question is relevant.

    Two further comments, one from nearer and one from further.

    When the OCA began its anti-homosexual work in 1988, it did not come out of nowhere. Mabon and Scott Lively and others had been part of an effort in the preceding decade to use the initiative process against abortion rights. It was during that period that Mabon had begun developing the OCA as the nepotistic little family industry it became. By 1988 the anti-abortion initiative effort had failed miserably several times (though it did set into motion the developments that led to the hard-right control of the RP in the state); meanwhile HIV/AIDS was reaching the peak of its deadliness in the U.S. among gay men and there was a great deal of homophobia mongering around it on the far right.

    If the anti-GLBT initiative movement really has exhausted itself, it may not be the end of the forces behind it. It wouldn't surprise me to see it shift back around to attacks on women's rights to control their bodies and their fertility.

    From further away, and relevant to politics as process, when I was studying South Africa intensely during the last period of apartheid, I came to understand something better that I had not before: it is not the absolutely most oppressed who fight hardest or are best placed to fight oppression. Those people have a different fight, a fight for survival, which can dictate very harsh choices indeed.

    In South Africa, a gradual process of building up "independent" trade unions for Africans, that were illegal in the first phase of the process, led to a phase in which there was bitter debate over whether to accept a "compromise" offer register with the government, presented as a "reform." This was seen by some as a sell-out or legitimation. In the end the unions, or the ones that became powerful, decided in effect to register, but to continue to ignore the rules the government tried to set just as they had ignored the anti-union laws previously.

    They then proceeded to organize on a massively new scale, and to make themselves indispensable to the large industrial and commercial employers for labor stability. They also gained for their members significant economic benefits, giving them more freedom to act. As a result, when the government banned most of the community-based organizations in 1986 that had led the uprisings beginning in 1983, and they tried to include the unions, they couldn't do it. The big employers said, no, you can't do that. So then they tried to impose massive restrictions on political activity on the unions. And the unions once again ignored the restrictions, and became the leading force in a newly reorganized "Mass Democratic Movement." The failure of the government to be able to suppress them was one of several key elements that led them to negotiate with the ANC, leading ultimately to the release of Mandela, the unbanning of various liberation organizations, and the repeal of a number of central apartheid laws. There then followed another four years of negotiations for a new constitution that fully ended legal apartheid and led to full electoral democracy.

    To my mind there is an analogy to the struggle for full LGBT equality. The gains in civil rights of the 2007 legislative session are not just points in a game. They are real, substantive gains of condition and status that put people in a stronger position to fight for the next steps.

    What will or should the next phase strategy be? I don't know, and I don't suppose it's up to me anyway, as an ally. But I'm sure that figuring it out will require taking stock both of where the opposition is and what the new resources or protections from previous vulnerabilities mean, along with figuring out the complicated dynamics between in-state fights and the national level, without which there will never be full equality in marriage and several other respects.

    So I think Kristin's posed one of the key questions.

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    After my previous windy entry, let me ask a short variant of the question:

    Suppose we assume for the moment that the anti-gay offensive movement is played out, at least for the time being.

    Is the same thing true of them defensively? What is the strategy for bringing over enough of the people who voted "yes" on M 36 to vote "yes" on repealing it, that a repeal goes through? Are there dynamics moving in the right direction that can be encouraged or used?

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    Excellent analogy with independent trade unions in S.A., Chris. It would never have occurred to me to draw that parallel but it is an excellent object lesson in the strategic value of snagging what some might call "low-hanging fruit" and then building upon that.

    My mind always goes to the military analogy where a war is almost never won in one fell swoop. It's virtually always a matter of achieving a series of intermediate goals which can be leveraged to make further gains until finally the enemy is defeated.

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    Chris Lowe wrote: "the LGBT Caucus is the largest caucus in the DPO. I'm sure there's a reciprocity between that fact and the results of the 2007 legislative session. ... It seems to me that part of what is at stake here is the difference between thinking of politics as a set of positions and thinking of it as a process."

    Absolutely. The DPO GLBT Caucus exists because Frank Dixon discovered in 2004 that no specific effort of any form would be made to include LGBT Oregonians in our delegation to the Democratic National Convention, or even consider the issue. He was told, in a nutshell, that "it's not that we don't like the idea, but these things don't happen overnight, or by magic ... get involved".

    So he did. Four years later, the DPO GLBT Caucus is - by an order of magnitude (so far) - the largest individual, recognized caucus within the DPO, with over 1300 members and non-member contacts including numerous elected officials around the state. We also have constituent county level organizations in Multnomah, Washington, and Lane Counties, and regional organizations in Central and Southern Oregon. Several of our members are also active as officers, committee chairs, and committee members at various levels of the state, district, and county party structure. Frank Dixon himself is now the male Vice Chair of the DPO.

    In terms of effective change as a result of this work, two major wins for us so far include: (a) positions which the DPO GLBT Caucus moved forward and got approved for inclusion in the 2006 DPO Platform and Legislative Agenda are directly reflected in the Oregon Equality and Family Fairness Acts, and (b) for the first time in history, the DPO explicitly included LGBT Oregonians in its Inclusion Plan to ensure diversity in our delegation to the National Convention.

    So yes, Chris is absolutely right. It's all well and good to have a set of political positions which drive your individual voting choices (and blog posts). It's a far more powerful thing to get directly involved in the larger process, and leverage the power of an organization.

    Don't get mad. Don't get whiny. Get organized.

    Decisions are made by the people who show up.

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    Chris noted: If the anti-GLBT initiative movement really has exhausted itself, it may not be the end of the forces behind it. It wouldn't surprise me to see it shift back around to attacks on women's rights to control their bodies and their fertility.

    This is already happening. Ballot initiative efforts - like the Colorado initiative to define a fertilized egg as person with legal rights, and a similar (failed) effort in Montana are one front - but judicial elections and the courts, at both the Federal and State levels, are another.

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