Volume XXXII, No. 1            Spring 2000
In the Courts  

Oregon ACLU challenges drug testing in schools, escort restrictions and more.  


Fall Election Preview  

Check out the ACLU's positions for the November ballot.  


Oregon ACLU Events

  Annual State Meeting to focus on Campaign Finance Reform, and chapter events around the state  


ACLU on the May Election  

    Vote "YES" on Measure 79  
    The ACLU is urging a "Yes" vote on Measure 79 which would increase the number of signatures needed to qualify initiative constitutional amendments for the ballot. Currently, the required number of signatures is equal to 8% of those who voted in the last election for Governor. Measure 79 would raise that requirement to 12%. Of the 166 proposed initiatives filed with the Secretary of State for the November 2000 election, more than 100 are proposed constitutional amendments. We believe it is much too easy to amend the Oregon Constitution. Too often, the target of those proposals is the Oregon Bill of Rights which in many areas provides greater protection for individual rights than is required by the U.S. Constitution. Many of those proposals would weaken the rights we already have. 

    Vote "NO" on Measure 81  
In the past few weeks, both The Oregonian and the Eugene Register-Guard have joined ACLU in urging Oregonians to reject Measure 81. Oregon's two largest daily newspapers agreed with us that Measure 81 was hastily and badly written by the Legislature in order to respond to an Oregon Supreme Court decision overturning a statutory limitation on damages in civil lawsuits. Measure 81 would allow future limits on all damages in any civil action--even those that would violate other provisions of the Oregon Bill of Rights. For more information on either Measure 79 or Measure 81, look for the ACLU statements in the Voters Pamphlet when it arrives in the mail. You can also call the Portland or Eugene ACLU office if you have questions. 
Annual ACLU of Oregon Membership Meeting
May 20th, 12:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Carriage House, Benton County Fairgrounds
110 SW 53rd Street
Corvallis, OR

Here Comes the OCA-- Again 
    While the Oregon Citizens Alliance may not be getting much press attention lately, Lon Mabon and his supporters have been collecting signatures for almost 18 months on a new anti-gay and lesbian initiative. 
   Mabon hasn't been able to qualify an initiative for the ballot since Measure 13 in 1994. As a result, many reporters assume the OCA will come up short once again. But we're not taking any chances and have been busy with a legal challenge to the measure as well as cranking up the anti-OCA coalition just in case the measure does make it to the November ballot. 

    The new OCA initiative would prohibit public school employees from presenting any information about homosexuality or bisexuality in a manner that "encourages, promotes or sanctions such behaviors." Using typical Mabon language, the measure could require school districts to: 

  • fire teachers who are openly gay, lesbian or bisexual; 
  • ban books and materials written by gays or that discuss gay people without condemning homosexuality; 
  • completely sanitize HIV/AIDS instruction in a way that could deny students the information they need to make responsible choices. 
 Unlike Measures 9 & 13, and the 1996 and 1998 measures that failed to get on the ballot, the OCA's latest effort is a statutory change rather than a constitutional amendment and requires fewer signatures to qualify. Two years ago, the OCA turned in 92,000 signatures for an anti-abortion initiative. Because that measure was a constitutional amendment, it came up short of the 97,681 signatures needed to qualify. However, to place a statutory initiative on the ballot requires only 66,786 valid signatures. 

    We're working closely with Basic Rights Oregon to monitor the OCA's signature-gathering and to put a strong campaign together now so we'll be able to defeat the measure if it does qualify for the ballot in July when signatures are turned in to the Secretary of State. 

    We've also filed suit against former Secretary of State Phil Keisling arguing that he should not have authorized circulation of the proposed measure because the OCA did not include the complete text of the statutes to be amended by their initiative. This is not just a procedural requirement but is important because it is the only way the voters can see, in context, the changes in the law and the potential effect this measure will have. 

Shouldnāt You Belong to the DeSilver Society? 
    "Civil liberties are the bedrock of who we are as a country. Whether you agree with the ACLU on every issue or not, you have to respect that it's the core group preserving our individual rights." 
    Janet Webster has been involved with the ACLU since her days in college. ACLU is so important to her that she has decided to make a lasting financial commitment to the ACLU in her will and therefore becoming a member of the ACLU's DeSilver Society. 
    Janet, a native Oregonian, is head librarian for the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. As a librarian, she appreciates the value of having an organization like the ACLU to defend the rights of free expression and intellectual freedom. Individual privacy and reproductive freedom are also high on Janet's list of priorities.      Janet served on the ACLU of Oregon board from 1989-1992 and until this year served on the organization's nominating committee, which identifies and interviews prospective board members. 
    Janet served on the ACLU board during the heated campaign against the OCA's anti-gay constitutional amendment, Measure 9. "There was intense statewide debate about what were basic rights and equal protection and what were "special" rights. The OCA was defeated at the polls, but it is obvious the issue persists. Every election cycle, the OCA attempts to get an anti-gay and lesbian initiative on the ballot." 
   Regarding the future of the ACLU of Oregon, Janet thinks our biggest challenges lie in the Legislature and emerging privacy issues. She is dismayed by the amount of resources needed to react to restrictive anti-liberties legislation. "There is no end in sight, but it frustrates me that there isn't much time or energy left at the end of the day to push pro-active legislation." 
    Janet believes in the age of the instant transfer of information from one place or one person to another, privacy rights could take a beating. "We have already seen issues such as companies selling databases with huge quantities of information about their customers and state DMV offices selling the names, addresses and pictures of its citizens, there will just be more problems ahead." 
    Why put the ACLU in her will? 
  "I believe people should endow the organizations that do good work and are a stable, effective part of the community. If the ACLU is not around to protect your current rights and fight to increase the individual rights of all Oregonians, then who will be?"  

For more information about planned giving and the DeSilver Society, contact your nearest ACLU office.