Oregon may be the last west coast state between Washington and California to allow same-sex couples to marry, but for now Oregon will legally recognize same-sex couples who have married out of state. A memo was sent to state officials on Wednesday, October 16th when Chief Operating Officer Michael Jordan (not to be confused with the former NBA star) declared that the state must now recognize all “legal, same sex marriages performed in other states and countries.” This action corresponds with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to nullify aspects of the Defense of Marriage Act. There’s no exact number for how many married same-sex couples reside in Oregon, but their cheers echo from Mt. Hood to Mt. Rainer.
In a suit filed in the Eugene U.S. District Court on Tuesday, October 15th by Portland attorneys Lake Perriguey and Lea Ann Easton, the judge was asked to overturn 2004’s Measure 36. The couple at the forefront, Deanna Geiger and Janine Nelson, argues their right to be legally married—after all, it’s been 31 years of togetherness, and that’s special regardless of sexuality. Measure 36 is an anti-gay amendment that should be abolished completely from our system. A separate $12 million campaign has been underway at the hands of Oregon United for Marriage.
In a press release on October 15th, adidas announced its endorsement to put marriage equality on the Oregon ballot for 2014. Adidas America’s Vice President Paul Ehrlich stated: “We are proud to support Oregon United for Marriage in its campaign to extend the freedom to marry to loving, committed couples, no matter their gender.” As one of the largest Oregon-based corporations, this backing solidifies the dedication of the state’s desire to progressively move forward, one step at a time—pun intended.
On Halloween night, Dustin Miller, Curtis Hughes and Joey Malone, who were dressed up in drag, were attacked in Portland by five perpetrators. The attackers began shouting homophobic slurs and became physically violent. Reports suggest one suspect was carrying a knife, but that they were spooked by nearby cyclists and fled the scene. The victims, moderately injured, reported the crime to local police. Many supporters have reached out to the men. The incident furthers the ongoing national conversation about the rise in anti-gay hate crimes.
The first weekend of November was filled with parties across the state to kick off the one-year countdown for the same-sex marriage campaign. “The very same people, the very same community, the very same state that did something wrong now understands it needs to set it right,” said Freedom to Marry founder Evan Wolfson of the 2004 elections in contrast to the upcoming 2014 elections. There were hundreds of house parties raising same-sex marriage awareness in Oregon and the campaign will continue in the coming months. Everyone knows gay punch is the best punch to drink, so keep the house parties rolling.
On Monday, November 4th Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon made waves in the Senate by receiving the 60 minimum votes needed—a magic number required to advance a bill—in an effort to disallow workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This came as a major leap for Merkley, the former Oregon House speaker, who has championed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., followed by Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, completed the final votes. Following this proceeding, the U.S. Senate passed the #ENDA bill on Thursday, November 7th. If you didn’t read it all over social media, a triumphant vote of 64-32 followed, including an “aye” from Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Now the legislation goes to the House of Representatives. So, go get your workplace gay on—consider it the best raise of all.
The Human Rights Campaign pledged to match every donation made during the weekend of November 1st-3rd with $250,000 in congruence with Oregon’s efforts to repeal the state’s DOMA—incentive to up the ante before voting a year from this month. ACLU pledged the same for every person who attended a state house party. With plans to continue these heightened campaigns in the future, Oregon United for Marriage is hopeful to receive ample signatures for two important ballot-worthy items in 2014—the Right to Marry and Religious Protection Amendment. To become a registered voter in Oregon, visit: oregonvotes.org
Leahnora Isaak, a Portland resident, is seeking recognition by the LDS Church as a Mormon transsexual. On November 5th, she spoke with KATU about her formal requests to the church—a seemingly controversial topic among Mormon Church leaders. “I just want to live the gospel. I want to live the plan of happiness, which I believe applies to all people,” Isaak says. The Church has not issued any responses as of yet, but Isaak’s brave action for equality is already heard.
The TransConnect Resource Fair returned November 10th at Q Center. Organizers, volunteers and attendants came together for workshops, exhibits, counseling, a very cool video storytelling booth and a clothing swap. Sliding-scale donations were cheerfully accepted, but entry was free. This event unites, inspires and joins together the gender non-conforming and transgender community and their allies. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Transgender Day of Remembrance is scheduled for November 20th. Basic Rights’ Trans Justice Organizer Peter Molof writes: “TDoR serves to bring attention to these transphobic hate crimes and to raise public awareness of these heinous acts which are often ignored by the media.” TDoR was created in 1998 after the murder of Rita Hester. During the month of November, many TDoR events, vigils, speakers, panels and masses are scheduled across the state. Find out where and how you can participate at basicrights.org
United Airlines was named one of the “Top Companies for LGBT Equality” for 2013 on October 25th by Work Life Matters magazine. This annual national award is given to companies that exemplify positive LGBT support in the workplace. For the past five years, the Human Rights Campaign has recognized United under their “Best Places to Work” list. This news arrives just in time for the holiday travel season.
Agender California teenager, Sasha Fleischman, is in recovery after being set on fire by 16 year-old Richard Thomas, who was arrested November 5th, and will be tried as an adult. On November 8th, Thomas was charged with a hate crime, aggravated mayhem, and felony assault. Fleischman identifies outside of the gender binary and chose to wear a skirt on the day they were attacked. Helping Sasha Have a Speedy Recovery via Fundly.com was set up. Over $21,000 has been raised.
Ye old Land of Lincoln is now officially the 15th state to allow same-sex marriage. Tuesday, November 5th was a day of celebration for Illinoisans when the Illinois House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. The vote was 61-54 in favor of the bill introduced by Democratic Rep. Greg Harris. Now it’s up to Governor Pat Quinn to put his John Hancock on the document. Once signed, same-sex couples will be allowed to legally marry in Illinois as of June 2014.
On the heels of Illinois’ momentum, the Hawaii House advanced their same-sex marriage bill, SB1, on Wednesday, November 6th, with final decisions set for Friday, November 8th. Many Hawaiian residents were in opposition of the bill in oral testimony Tuesday evening, some disrupting the proceedings. Aside from “hello,” “aloha” also means peace and compassion, and Hawaiians proved they have it in spades. Lawmakers passed the bill, and Gov. Abercrombie signed it. State officials will begin issuing licenses imminently.