Oregon civil rights leader says 'no' to discrimination

With the wave of "license to discriminate" bills that has passed over the country, Oregon is unique in that those who are pushing the discriminatory law are attempting to collect enough signature to put the issue on the ballot. That means the citizens are going to vote on whether to allow businesses to refuse service to LGBT people.

A new coalition that formed today, Oregon United Against Discrimination, released the first ad in the campaign to defeat the proposed discrimination measure. The ad to features Kathleen Saadat, a renowned advocate for civil rights and for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Oregonians. For her decades of work to stop discrimination, she received last week a lifetime achievement award from the Portland Black Chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

The advertisement will land as petition circulators are expected to start collecting signatures to qualify a new discrimination measure for Oregon’s November ballot. The proposed discrimination measure, Initiative Petition 52, is similar to the one recently vetoed in Arizona. It would create an exception to Oregon’s anti-discrimination laws, allowing corporations and commercial businesses to deny goods and services to gay and lesbian couples because of who they are and whom they love.

The ads will also be broadcast as gay and lesbian couples are counting down the days until they have the freedom to marry in Oregon. In a court hearing on May 14, a federal judge could rule to grant marriage equality in Oregon.

The latest polls from Oregon United for Marriage show support for the freedom to marry at 55 percent. Although no publicly-available polls have been released about the discrimination measure in Oregon, a recent Washington Post poll found that 81 percent of Americans believe that businesses should not be allowed to turn customers away for being gay, even if being gay violates their religious beliefs.