For Immediate Release
Contact: Molly Woon
press [at] dpo [dot] org ([email protected].org)
June 8, 2018
ICYMI: Basic Rights Oregon on this week's SCOTUS decision
PORTLAND — As we celebrate our LGBTQ friends and family with the start of Pride month, a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court reminds us of how much work there is still to be done in order ensure equal rights for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In response to the Court's disappointing decision, Basic Rights Oregon co-Executive Director Nancy Haque submitted a guest opinion column to The Oregonian titled, "Oregon must remain open to all."
In the piece, Haque chronicles Oregon's history of discrimination, as well as the progress our state has made for LGBTQ equality in the last few decades. Haque then describes the recent Supreme Court decision as, "a clarion call to fair-minded Oregonians [that] our work is far from over."
"Here in Oregon, we celebrate our diversity rather than using it as an opportunity to discriminate," said Jeanne Atkins, Chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon. "We're thankful that Oregon has taken strong measures to protect against discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, and that Governor Kate Brown is leading the way to create a more welcoming and inclusive community here in Oregon."
Haque's column in The Oregonian is copied below — you can also read it here.
"Oregon must remain open to all: Guest opinion"
By Nancy Haque, Basic Rights Oregon co-Executive Director
Portland State University sophomore Liam Posovich was in third grade when the Oregon Equality Act passed, which created legal protections for LGBTQ Oregonians.
When Liam came out as transgender during his junior year, he was among the first generation of LGBTQ Oregonians to grow up with the security knowing he would be protected from discrimination in law. This meant that when he took his first job as a parking lot attendant, he knew he could not be denied a job because of his gender identity. And when he rented a house as an adult last year, he was legally protected from housing discrimination. And it means he cannot be denied service when he walks in a restaurant or store because of who he is or whom he loves.
Oregon is among 19 states, plus Washington D.C., to provide non-discrimination protections in employment, housing and public accommodations based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
While we are deeply disappointed with the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of a lower court ruling in the Colorado case where a baker refused service to an LGBTQ couple based on his religious beliefs, the decision does not change Oregon law. The Supreme Court decision focused on a narrow issue specific to that case.
It does, however, illustrate how much work we still have to do to ensure that Liam and all of us are treated with dignity and respect.
Since we began winning the freedom to marry, an increasing number of bakers, florists and photographers across the country are cynically denying services to LGBTQ couples as they prepare for one of the most important events of their lives–their wedding day. This includes the Gresham bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which refused to sell a cake to Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, who wanted to marry and build a secure home for the two kids they had just adopted.
Too many LGBTQ people are hearing the words, "we don't serve your kind here."
Oregon's ugly history around equality requires us to remain vigilant. In the 1980s and 1990s, our beloved state was ground zero for anti-LGBTQ ballot measures. A group called the Oregon Citizens Alliance pushed countless measures trying to criminalize our existence.
In 1996, business leaders joined community activists to form Basic Rights Oregon, so we could defend against these attacks and push for proactive policies to protect our community. Twenty-two years later, Oregon is regarded as one of the most LGBTQ friendly states in the country.
Oregon's turnaround took years of heart-wrenching conversations, coming out stories, pro-active policy campaigns, legal battles and electing leaders willing to fight for LGBTQ equality.
As we mark our 48th annual Pride month, these cake cases send a clarion call to fair-minded Oregonians–our work is far from over.
We need to double down with faith communities to strengthen our resolve to fight for the best of our spiritual traditions.
We must continue to share our stories openly and honestly with our neighbors, family, friends and colleagues.
We must continue to support the thousands of small businesses like ¿Por Qué No? Taqueria and Morel Ink who model what it means to operate a truly inclusive business.
We must continue to elect leaders like Gov. Kate Brown whom we can trust to defend our community no matter what.
We built a welcoming state together, and it's incumbent on all of us to make sure it stays that way.