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Comes the OCA-- Again
|by DAVID FIDANQUE
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:
| 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.
| "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."
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.