Oregon's gay-rights law target of initiative
Two Yamhill County lawmakers are planning a statewide ballot initiative to repeal the gay-rights law passed by the 2007 Legislature to prohibit...
McMINNVILLE, Ore. — Two Yamhill County lawmakers are planning a statewide ballot initiative to repeal the gay-rights law passed by the 2007 Legislature to prohibit discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation.
State Sen. Gary George and Rep. Kim Thatcher, both Newberg Republicans, have submitted a ballot title to state elections officials, who said they will accept public comments through March 25.
The draft title of the proposed statutory amendment reads: "Removes sexual orientation from statutes listing impermissible discrimination grounds; deletes other sexual orientation-related provisions."
Jeana Frazzini, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon, said the proposed initiative was expected. But she criticized the lawmakers for their role.
"While I'm not surprised that initiatives to repeal the laws have been filed, I'm shocked that this effort has been spearheaded by legislators whose duty is to protect Oregonians," Frazzini said.
Gay-rights activists are also upset over remarks George made to a reporter for Just Out, the state's flagship gay newspaper, which posted excerpts last week on its Web site.
The exchange between George and the reporter, not identified in the Web posting, includes George's response to a question about employees who are fired because they're gay.
"As an employer, I don't wanna hear about it," George told Just Out. "This workplace is for work purposes. My advice to the gay community is shut up, just don't talk about it. If you walk around talking about what you do in the bedroom, you should be on the pervert channel."
George told the News-Register newspaper in McMinnville the comment was taken out of context. He said he was referring to an incident involving an employee of his hazelnut operation who complained that another worker was gay. After determining the gay employee hadn't even spoken about his sexual orientation, George said he told the complaining worker to get over it.
He said he hadn't contacted the paper for a correction or retraction, saying, "There's no way to win this thing."
George said Friday that the backlash might help his initiative, because it exposes the intolerance of gay-rights supporters.
If the proposed ballot title is approved, supporters will have until July 3 to collect 82,769 valid signatures.
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