Oregon: Identity and Politics in the Northwest
William M. Lunch
In 1994, as they had in 1992, Oregon voters rejected an antihomosexual ballot initiative sponsored by the Oregon Citizens' Alliance (OCA), an organization of the Christian Right in Oregon. Both of the initiatives— Measure 9 in 1992 and Measure 13 in 1994—would have amended the state constitution to deny civil rights protections to homosexuals and otherwise restrict their legal rights, but the language used in the 1994 initiative was less severe than in 1992. Perhaps as a result, the 1994 initiative, Measure 13, came closer to passage, losing by only 51 to 49 percent of the vote, while Measure 9 had lost by 56 to 44 percent. These measures have given the OCA high visibility—though not popularity—in the Northwest, and even some national attention. 1
In 1992, Measure 9 attracted national and even international attention. Had it passed, Measure 9 would have overturned existing local laws in three Oregon cities protecting homosexuals from discrimination 2 and the state constitution would have been amended to add a provision stating that the state could not "promote, encourage, or facilitate" homosexuality. This was an extraordinarily broad and vague provision which would have required hundreds, if not thousands, of specific policy changes, had it been enacted. The OCA sponsored the measure and collected more than a million dollars, mostly in small contributions, for the campaign. But there was also an intense opposition campaign. The measure passed in twenty-one of Oregon's thirty-six counties, and in 1993 and 1994, a number of local antigay initiatives at the city and county levels passed in areas where Measure 9 had been successful (see figure 12-1). In the general election in 1994, Measure 13 did not receive as much attention as Measure 9 had, but it came closer to passage, winning in twenty-five of the counties of the state.