PQ Monthly News Briefs – July 2013

Portland celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 3 of DOMA last month with a downtown rally. Photo by Julie Cortez.
Portland celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 3 of DOMA last month with a downtown rally. Photo by Julie Cortez.

OREGON UNITED FOR MARRIAGE RESPONDS TO DELAY WITH RAPID RESPONSE TEAM

By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly

Oregon United for Marriage has been forced to delay the launch of a campaign to gather the 116,284 signatures required to put the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection Initiative in the November 2014 ballot.

The launch, which was initially scheduled for July 20, has been postponed by an appeal from opponents of marriage equality.

“Every step of the way, our opposition has tossed up obstacles designed to prevent Oregonians from signing our historic petition,” Field Organizer Kim Sogge wrote in a July 15 email to supporters. “They did this again last week, filing yet another meritless court appeal aimed at slowing us down. We’re confident this will be resolved in our favor, and soon.”

In response, Oregon United for Marriage has established a Rapid Response Petition Team of volunteers committed to gathering at least 25 signatures within three days of receiving the petitions.

“In the few short hours since we’ve been asking people to commit to the Rapid Response Petition Team, the response has been incredible,” OU4M Communications Director Amy Ruiz said June 16. “We have several hundred people already signed up.”

The proposed ballot measure would remove from the Oregon’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage (created by the 2004 passage of Measure 36) and would insert the right of same-sex couples to marry. It would benefit not only gay and lesbian couples, but also heterosexual relationships in which one or both partners are trans. It is the only remaining path to marriage equality in Oregon.

To sign up for the Rapid Response Petition Team, visit http://bit.ly/osidfb.

LOCAL

Three months after the state failed to renew the Oregon HIV/STD Hotline’s contract with the Oregon State Health Authority, Cascade AIDS Project announced that it will keep the hotline running with new phone hours and an increased presence online. It is the only STD information and referral line serving Oregon and SW Washington. CAP said it is anticipating increased call volume in response to new guidelines that broaden recommendations for testing as well as the greater availability of at-home HIV testing. Lear more at oregonaidshotline.com.

Three healthcare providers in Oregon have been recognized as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare” by the Human Rights Campaign’s 2013 Healthcare Equality Index: Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), VA Portland Medical Center, and the Multnomah County Health Department (eight sites). No facilities in SW Washington were recognized. The designation means that all of the healthcare centers meet four requirements: their patient nondiscrimination policies include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” their employee nondiscrimination policies include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” their visitation policy explicitly grants equal access to LGBTQ patients and their visitors, and they offer their staff training in LGBT patient-centered care.

Portland Latino Gay Pride will present its annual Mariposa Award to individuals and organizations “making a difference in the community” in a ceremony during VOZ ALTA at Q Center on July 20. The 2013 recipients are: Hillsboro police officer Adele Ríos, Oregon Democratic Party LGBT Caucus Chair Joey Kerns, Chairperson for the SEIU 503 Civil and Human Rights CommissionCarmen Morales Mayoral, and CAUSA’s LGBT Alliance Building Coordinator Christian Baeff. PLGP will also award Western Oregon University junior Iván A. López García with a $1,000 scholarship to further his education. Learn more atlatinogaypridepdx.com.

About 20 men participated in a protest of the Food and Drug Administration’s ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men in North Portland on July 12 as part of a nationwide Gay Blood Drive. Local point person Alina Wright said that all 20 men were deferred indefinitely from donating based on their sexual orientation, including those who provided proof of a recent negative HIV test.

Bend is preparing to host its first-ever Red Dress Party Sept. 14 at Liquid Lounge Club. The party, fashioned after red dress-themed events across the nation, will raise funds for the Central Oregon chapter of PFLAG. In keeping with tradition, all attendees are required to wear a red dress. For more information, visit pflagcentralor.4t.com.

NATIONAL

In case you’ve been living under a rock: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in “Windsor v. United States” 5-4 that Sec. 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and violates Fifth Amendment rights to equal protection. SCOTUS also ruled that those defending California’s Proposition 8 lacked standing, effectively reverting to the prior court’s decision. The DOMA decision grants the federal benefits of marriage to same-sex couples who marry in a state where same-sex marriage is legal. The U.S. House and Senate are currently considering a bill (the Respect for Marriage Act) to fully repeal DOMA. The Prop. 8 decision allows same-sex marriage to resume in California, but impacts no other states. Though supporters of Prop. 8 attempted to block the reinstatement of marriage equality, the California Supreme Court denied their petition.

The American public seems to support the court’s rulings on marriage equality, according to a recent Gallup poll. The survey shows that 55 percent of Americans believe same-sex marriages should be recognized as valid by law and equal to heterosexual marriages (with 40 percent opposed). Support for the legal recognition of same-sex marriages has more than doubled since the question was first asked by Gallup in 1996 (when it was only 27 percent). Only 48 percent said they agreed with the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision (43 percent opposed). An equal number (26 percent) felt strongly about their opinion on the ruling. That number may shift over time, since the only major demographics in which a majority opposes marriage equality are Republicans and people 65 and older.

Other decisions by the Supreme Court were less in line with public opinion. According to the Gallup poll, Americans tended to disagree with the court’s rulings on civil rights issues. A 53 percent majority said that affirmative action programs are still necessary (37 percent felt otherwise) and 49 percent opposed the gutting of the Voter Rights Act (versus 40 in support). Among African-Americans, more than 60 percent were opposed.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee voted 15-7 on July 10 to approve a fully inclusive version of theEmployment Nondiscrimination Act. According to trans activist Meghan Stabler, it is the first Senate markup of the bill since 2002 and the first time a trans-inclusive version has passed committee in either chamber of Congress.

WORLD

After 37 years of ex-gay ministry, Exodus International closed its doors on July 1. The organization, which had been a leader in “conversion therapy,” issued an apology that acknowledged that sexual orientation cannot be changed. While the closure is seen by many as the end of an era and cause for celebration, others are skeptical. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, an Oregon-based organization affiliated with the estranged wife of former ex-gay icon John Paulk — the Restored Hope Network—– hopes to fill the gap created by Exodus’s demise.

In Russia, government-sanctioned antagonism toward LGBTQ people is heating up. The anti “gay propaganda” law signed byPresident Vladimir Putin on June 30 goes so far as to allow gay or pro-gay tourists to be held in prison for 14 days before being kicked out of the country. It’s unclear how this law will impact the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics.

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