Newcomers to this state have always had some trouble with Oregon's libertarian you-leave-me-alone, I'll-leave-you-alone conservatism. This is especially true of newcomers of the authoritarian fundamentalist Christian variety who confuse it with "liberalism."

In the early 1990s, newcomer Lon Mabon became alarmed at Oregonians' toleration for homosexuals and formed The Oregon Citizens Alliance. The OCA put several initiatives on the ballot prohibiting state and local governments and public schools from "promoting" homosexuality by saying anything about not discriminating against homosexuals.

The OCA's Measure 9 was defeated in 1992, but the Christian Right became increasingly shrill, and eventually put Measure 36 on the ballot - a state constitutional amendment declaring marriage must be between a man and a woman. It passed.

During the campaign on Measure 36, some of its most vocal supporters declared they were only protecting the "sanctity of marriage" and did not oppose laws that would give same sex couples the domestic legal protections that heterosexual couples had.

With that distinction in mind, the Legislature passed and Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed Senate Bill 2 banning discrimination against homosexuals in housing, workplaces and places of public accommodation like restaurants or theaters. The Legislature also passed House Bill 2007, creating domestic partnerships that grant committed same-sex couples similar legal benefits in taxation, insurance, hospitalization, etc. that heterosexual couples have.

Then Jack Brown of Grants Pass, the chairman of the Constitution Party of Oregon, announced he is circulating a petition to refer both bills to the voters. Brown says the bills "violate the spirit" of Measure 36. They do not, of course. The bills simply violate Brown's personal prejudices.

The Constitution Party, headed by former Republican Howard Phillips, openly advocates theocratic, Christian government for the United States, so Brown is likely to have national money to hire signature gathers and buy their way onto the ballot as many interest groups have done in recent years.


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