The ACLU has worked for equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people for over 75 years. We fight discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The struggle of LGBTQ+ people for full equality is one of this generation’s most important and galvanizing civil rights movements. Despite the many advances that have been made, LGBTQ+ people continue to face discrimination in many areas of life. No federal law prevents a person from being fired or refused a job on the basis of sexual orientation. Mothers and fathers still lose child custody simply ecause they are gay or lesbian. Here in Oregon, we have faced more anti-gay ballot measures than any other state – and we fought against every single one of them. When we couldn’t defeat them at the ballot box, we brought legal challenges in court. And, while here in Oregon the state ban on marriage for same-sex couples was struck down, couples in many other states still are denied the freedom to marry.
We fought to ensure the equal protection provision of the Oregon Constitution, Article I, section 20, protected all Oregonians - including LGBTQ+ people. We continue to work to provide protection for family relationships, including fighting for the freedom to marry in Oregon; to advocate for LGBTQ+ youth and youth groups to organize and speak out; to oppose laws that criminalize sexual intimacy; to support laws that prohibit discrimination; and to preserve the right to free expression and association for LGBTQ+ people.
A brief chronology of the struggles to secure civil rights for LGBT Oregonians in the Legislature
- 1973First lesbian & gay civil rights bill introduced. ACLU lobbied for this bill and the every bill introduced in subsequent sessions.
- 1975HB 2288 (to prohibit discrimination in public employment) failed in House.
- 1977SB 603 (omnibus) tabled. HB 3310 (state employment) died in committee. City of Eugene passes gay and lesbian rights ordinance.
- 1978Eugene voters repeal gay rights ordinance.
- 1979HB 2424 (omnibus), SB 659 (employment), SB 660 (public accommodations), SB 658 (real property) and SB 599 (state employment) all tabled.
- 1981HB 2669 (employment) tabled.
- 1983SB 319 (omnibus) failed 13-17. SB 435 (employment), died.
- 1985SB 896 (state employment) died in committee.
- 1986ACLU of Oregon establishes Commission on Gay & Lesbian Rights.
- 1987ACLU leads lobbying effort on HB 2325, omnibus civil rights bill.
- 1987ACLU lobbied Governor Goldschmidt for Executive Order prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in the state Executive Department and helped draft the Executive Order.
- 1988ACLU opposes Ballot Measure 8 to repeal the Executive Order. Measure 8 won. Measure 8 overturned by ACLU case Merrick v. Board of Higher Education (1989).
- 1989Helped amend intimidation statute to include sexual orientation (HB 2784). Successfully lobbied for a Hate Crimes Reporting Act (SB 606). HB 3211, to prohibit homosexuals from being foster parents, died in committee.
- 1990-91ACLU part of coalition to write and pass Portland’s civil rights ordinance, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.
- 1991SB 708 (omnibus bill) passed Senate 19-11, died in House Judiciary committee.
- 1991-92ACLU helped campaign against OCA's "Abnormal Behaviors Initiatives," Measure 9, failed.
- 1992Corvallis City Council passes ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
- 1993Ashland passes ordinance prohibiting housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. SB 34 - Passed to full Senate HB 3500 passes House to stop local anti-gay measures. ACLU unsuccessful in passing SB 811, (employment discrimination)
- 1993-94ACLU worked extensively with the No on 13 Campaign. Measure 13 failed.
- 1995ACLU introduced SJR 39, the Fundamental Rights Initiative, which would have made it impossible for the basic rights of individuals to be taken away by the initiative process. Died in committee.
- 1997ACLU supported HB 2734, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have banned discrimination in employment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation.
- 1999ACLU successfully lobbied against HJR 29 and HJR 4 (to amend the Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman). HJR 29 would have also prevented benefits to same sex couples.
- 2000ACLU active in the No on 9 Campaign against OCA’s Student Protection Act. Measure 9 failed.
- 2004ACLU active in the No on 36 Campaign. Measure 36 passed.
- 2005ACLU is actively lobbying for SB 1000, a bill that would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and create civil unions that would provide same-sex couples all of the benefits afforded to married couples.
- 2005ACLU opposes HB 3476, the Reciprocal Beneficiaries Bill, as a substitute for civil unions. HB 3476 is a watered-down version of SB 1000 which would not recognize civil unions and provide only a handful of the rights and protections afforded by marriage
- 2007ACLU supports Senate Bill 2, a bill that outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and House Bill 2007, a bill that creates domestic partnerships and provides same-sex couples benefits afforded to married couples.