Thirty years ago, Oregonians from all walks of life defeated Ballot Measure 9, known to history as “one of the most comprehensive – and harshest – antigay measures put to voters in American history.” (Oregon Historical Quarterly)
To mark the 30-year anniversary of this remarkable multi-year mobilization, we’ll serve up a fresh batch of three stories each month leading up to Election Day, 2022. Read more about the importance of historical memory.
We begin with three months of setting the stage. In January we open with Act I, in 1988 when racist skinheads beat Mulugeta Seraw to death on the streets of Portland; the language and meaning of Ballot Measure 9; and one response Western States Center supported, the Oregon Democracy Project. February orients us to Oregon’s political and cultural geography and introduces leaders from the Latinx and African American communities who recognized the larger civil rights questions at stake.
In March we pay tribute to the courage of those who came forward despite the risks by revisiting the hate crimes and political violence of that time, including the desecration of a Catholic Church and the deadly firebombing in Salem.
Through spring and summer we share examples of the varied forms of resistance and opposition that flourished in response to Measure 9. The media – both the LGBTQ press and mainstream urban and rural outlets (April). The grassroots innovations of Bigot Busters, People of Faith Against Bigotry, and rural activists (May). A range of voices from cops Tom & Katie Potter to Asian and Pacific Islanders to Republican Against Prejudice (June). Artists and culture shapers including satirists and entertainers, the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus & Portland Lesbian Choir, and Artists Against Hate (July). The many forms of educational outreach including labor organizing and the Walk for Love & Justice (August). “Straight but not narrow” perspectives including PFLAG founders and business allies (September).
We’ll wrap up in October with a few of the missing pieces. We’d love to hear your insights through our Feedback form.
What can this epic battle for civil and human rights tell us about today’s fight for inclusive democracy?
Read on. Share widely.
Be encouraged, be brave. Take action, take heart.
Coming next month….