Time running out for anti-gay activists

The Oregonian flirts with the idea that those looking to put the Oregon Equality Act and the Oregon Family Fairness Act on the ballot in 2008 might just come up short.

Groups gathering signatures to overturn two Oregon gay-rights laws say they are disconnected, frustrated and uncertain whether they can muster enough voter names to qualify for the statewide ballot.

They have less than seven weeks to collect the 55,179 valid signatures needed to refer each of two laws passed by the Legislature to the November 2008 ballot. Chief petitioner Janice Bentson estimates that only 5,000 to 10,000 signatures have arrived at her Salem home.

While that would certainly be a relief and would allow Progressives to concentrate our efforts on things like building a Progressive Majority in the state rather than playing defense once again, as Basic Rights Oregon reminds us, we cannot underestimate the extreme right. Executive Director John Hummel gives us a much-needed history lesson.

And while we may become overjoyed with the notion, the worst thing at this moment would be for us to become complacent.

In 2004, for example, many speculated that Measure 36 could have trouble making the ballot. Yet the opposition collected an unprecedented 244,000 signatures (more than four times the signatures needed this year) in just 5 short weeks. Compare that to today, when our opponents still have 7 weeks to collect just 55,179 valid signatures.

Furthermore, a newspaper story like this one often does two things:
1) Motivate our opponents to gather more signatures and
2) Create complacency among supporters of equality.

So what is a non-complacent and enthusiastic progressive to do? One of BRO's best suggestions isn't found on John Hummel's blog entry, though those are great too. One of the best ways to fight back has been provided by BRO in a diary at Loaded Orygun.

Basic Rights Oregon recently put out a call to its supporters to call or email us with reports of possible fraud by our opposition who are attempting to put the heads of families on the chopping block. Already we've had over a dozen reports of shady signature gatherers.

Folks, you are the eyes and the ears across Oregon and we need your help in spotting petition fraud by our opposition...

If you spot a referendum petition gatherer you should:
1.) Check to see if they're carrying Referendum Petitions #303 and #304.
2.) CALL US immediately and tell us where, what time/date, and whether the petitioner was carrying the full text of the bills or not. (It is against the law for them to not be carrying both bills on their person.)

If you see someone attempting to gather signatures for these anti-equality petitions, call Thomas at 503.222.6151 or email him at [email protected].


  • liberalincarnate (unverified)

    This is typical of the Religious Right. They lie about their accomplishments in a vain attempt to lull us into believing that we are "safe".

    I have NO DOUBT that they already have twice as many signatures that they need... a mere 55,000 they can collect outside of churches in conservative places on one single Sunday.

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    Call me jaded but if they don't have enough signatures I wouldn't be surprised if the Oregonian's focus on this is designed to remind the base that this effort is out there and to be sure and sign on.

  • dinopdx (unverified)

    I like what this group is doing. Watch out, if you sign the petition, your name will be published in a searchable database.

  • (Show?)

    Why did the Legislature not attach an emergency clause to each of the two bills and thus preclude these referenda entirely? Under the Oregon Constitution, the Legislature can preclude a referendum on a non-taxing bill merely by attaching an emergency clause to it. This is a very common practice. Why was it not used here?

  • Anonymous (unverified)

    But then couldn't the anti-gay groups just do a repeal?

  • Tom Overbearing (unverified)

    Thank you, Anon. You are correct.

    Oregonian37: You are jaded.

  • ellie (unverified)

    O37 may not be jaded. It may not be The O's intention, but that kind of coverage could energize the base.

  • Curt (unverified)

    Folks, they're going to get the signatures. Sheesh, how could they not?


  • David English (unverified)

    I agree that the article could push activist to try harder to gather signatures, even if it wasn't the intent of the Oregonian's article (which I think it wasn't). The only other thing I can think of is they are playing rope-a-dope and out right misleading about how close they are to get more then the amount needed (assuming some will be thrownout during the verification process). Now, I'm not saying they are doing it, just that it is possible.

  • spicey (unverified)

    perhaps just quiet news month - this helps sell papers...

    <h2>shallow O, simple O, improve O - please?</h2>
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