BRO activists join budget cuts protest at state Capitol

BRO volunteer Riley Webber, of Eugene, was quite vocal in responding to questions from the speaker’s platform. Photo by Neil Heilpern


By Neil Heilpern, PQ Monthly

A contingent of Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) members joined several thousand participants at a rally on the steps of the state Capitol Monday, Feb. 20, to protest possible cuts in budgets ranging from education and health care to elderly assistance and labor related issues.

“Everyone, no matter where they come from, how they work, or who they love, deserves equitable services that meet their needs,” BRO organizer Jen Lleras told PQ Monthly. “We want people to be able to work with respect and dignity, have good health care, and have a stable life.”

Lleras estimated a dozen BRO activists were in the crowd, although they were separated and kept in touch with cell phones.

She said the various issues discussed during the rally were important to the LGBTQ community, because, “How people are treated deeply impacts their stability and their ability to take care of their families.”

This applies to all people, she noted, citing the need for some GLBT people to have professional home care for their partners.

BRO volunteer Riley Webber traveled from Eugene to “support disability and gay rights.”

“They say cutbacks,” shouted a platform speaker. The crowd of more than 2,000 people shouted back, “We say fight back,” then later “We say no cuts.”

KPOJ progressive radio talk host Carl Wolfson spoke about the resource discrepancies between the economic 1 percent and the vast 99 percent with less economic clout. Noting the proposed funding cuts in the Oregon Legislature directly corresponds with the economic discrepancies, he asked, “Who is paying the price?”

The crowd, in unison, shouted back “We are.”
After listening to several speakers, the group marched around, then through the Capitol building. Chants of “No more cuts,” echoed in the rotunda.

“When we recruited people to attend,” said Lleras, “we made it clear that people need to realize how the economy affects everyone, including the LGBT community.”

“Our community has less access to health care and more discrimination in the work place,” she added, citing the high suicide rate of queer youth and transgendered people who “need more services, not less. We need more stable housing and education, and it would be nice if also we had full marriage rights.”

“We need strong coalitions for these issues that affect LGBT families,” she added.