KnowThyNeighbor, the Massachusetts-based LGBT Advocacy Group has announced that it will provide technical and consultative support to a group of activists in Oregon by assisting in the placing on the internet the names and addresses of all signers of two anti-gay initiative petitions being circulated in that state.
Tom Lang and Aaron Toleos, Directors of the Massachusetts KnowThyNeighbor.org became controversial when they posted on-line the state database of the names of over 148,000 Massachusetts voters who signed an anti-gay marriage petition in 2005 and later used the same strategy in Florida, posting over 450,000 names and addresses of Florida voters of a similar petition. In June of 2007 the Massachusetts petition was voted out in legislative session and same-sex marriage rights (the Goodridge Decision) which gave same-sex couples equal marriage protection in that state was upheld.
KnowThyNeighborOregon will exist independently but will be linked to the KnowThyNeighbor.org website. And names and addresses of over 55,000 Oregon voters and signers of Initiative Petitions # 303 and # 304 will be available in a searchable database sometime in September of 2007 (that is 55,000 per each petition). If the minimal number of signatures (55,179) are collected and verified in September for each of the Petitions 303 and 304, then laws which would go into effect on January 1st of 2008 providing domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples and employment and housing protections for gays and lesbians would essentially be put on hold and a referendum would be put before Oregon voters in November 2008. Governor Ted Kulongoski (Dem) signed both these laws (House Bill 2007 and Senate Bill 2) back in May of 2007.
Tom Lang, Co-Director, is honored to assist Gay Rights Watch of Oregon in defeating this heinous pair of initiative petitions. "What people are just not getting is that attempts such as these referenda to undo basic fairness that Oregonians were willing to provide to gays and lesbians are hateful, discriminatory and of benefit to absolutely no one. We are not talking same-sex marriage, we are talking about gays and lesbians being able to provide for their domestic partners and their families and to be assured that they will not be fired from their jobs or evicted from their homes because of being gay. That anyone or any state would say that this is okay or part of the Democratic process does not understand what it means to be an American."
The Initiative Petitions # 303 and 304 are being sponsored and supported by Right Wing groups including Restore America. The Oregon StateRepublican Party has officially endorced the petition drives and though it has gone on record to say that no GOP State Committee funds or resources are being used to assist in signature collection, it has also gone on record to state that volunteers within the State Republican Party are collecting signatures. And YES there are paid signature gatherers being used.
Basic Rights Oregon the LGBT Equality Organization for Oregon is policing and monitoring any and all attempts to fraud voters carried out by the sponsors of the petitions. The petition sponsors have a target date of September 1st to turn in all of their signed petitions.
Watch the Logo/HRC Presidential Debate on LGBT Issues Tonight at 9 P.M. EST and Find Out--or Come to Club Cafe and Join Us There to Watch the Debate Broadcast Live
It seems that it won't be just the Democratic Presidential Candidates who will be debating about the LGBT, but the LGBT leaders, activists and community will be debating about who to trust in the 2008 primaries and election.
Already openly gay Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) has postured to make excuses for his fellow Democrats regarding LGBT issues as they make their way toward the oval office. Frank told the Associated Press, "It’s not wrong for people trying to become president to take political considerations into account," Frank said. "I don’t want a bunch of martyrs on my side." This statement was made to squelch LGBT outrage over the major Democratic frontrunners' collective lack of support for marriage equality i.e. EQUAL RIGHTS. Clinton, Obama and Edwards are against same-sex marriage, though stand with civil union protection. And recently, Hillary Clinton agreed to address "part" of the Defence of Marriage Act while maintaining that marriage is "best left up to the states to determine." Sounds like she likes the basic premise of DOMA to me.
But KnowThyNeighbor tips its hat to two LGBT leaders who will not let the Presidential Candidates off the hook, Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of the Freedom to Marry and Kate Kendell of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. In this same AP story Wolfson said "There is no subsitute (for marriage)" and "They (the candidates) wouldn't trade their marriage for a civil union. Why should gay Americans."Kendell said that she was unsure as to what extent the candidates' failure to side with full equality reflects their beliefs as opposed to political calculations but "either way, it leaves lesbian and gay couples in the position of being publicly regarded as an inferior kind of relationship." Maybe Evan Wolfson and Kate Kendall should run for Congress--we need more leaders like them on our side to oppose the gradualists, cautionaries and apologists that seem to be so prolific.
So, join us atClub Cafetonight 7-9 P.M. for socializing with the debate on screen at 9 PM. The event is sponsored by Club Cafe and Dyke Night Productions and is free and open to the public. Part of Club Cafe's Revive Thursdays for women.