LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Oregon:
Since 2008, LGBTQ non-discrimination in Oregon has protected people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Path to LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Oregon:
EDITOR’S NOTE: The majority of the information in this history is courtesy of GLAPN, Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest. Visit their site here.
- 1970: The Portland Gay Liberation front, the first politically active gay organization, is founded by John Wilkinson and Holly Hart.
- 1973: State Representative Vera Cruz introduces House Bill 2930, an early version of what would become the Oregon Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The legislation fails House passage by two votes.
- January 18, 1973: Peggy Burton is fired from her job as a school teacher in Turner, Oregon for “immorality,” by neither confirming nor denying that she is a lesbian. With the help of the ACLU, she files the case of Burton v. Cascade School District appealing her termination. Later in the year, a Federal District Court found that she was wrongfully terminated, but would not reinstate her position. She appeals to the Ninth Circuit Court, which upholds the lower court decision in 1975.
- December 19, 1974: Portland City Council becomes the first in the state to pass non-discrimination employment protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
- 1977: The Eugene City Council passes the first-ever non-discrimination law in Oregon, enacting protections based on sexual orientation in housing, employment, and public accommodations. Unfortunately opponents of LGBTQ equality mount a campaign to repeal the protections through a ballot initiative known as Measure 51, which passes in 1978.
- 1985: Multnomah County Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury spearheads and successfully passes a resolution to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in county hiring.
- 1987: Governor Neil Goldschmidt signs an executive order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in state employment,
- 1988: A group called Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA) gathers signatures for a repeal soon known as Measure 8, to void the Governor’s order and prohibit employers from banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It passes by a 5.5% margin. Later, the city of Portland, along with the ACLU, argues before the Oregon Court of Appeals that Measure 8 is unconstitutional.
- April 13, 1991: The city of Portland updates its anti-discrimination law to expand protections on the basis of sexual orientation in housing and public accommodations
- November 3, 1992: Measure 9, which seeks to forbid the state from “promoting homosexuality,” and using any monies to provide resources and information related to sexual orientation or gender identity, is defeated at the ballot by more than a 12% margin.
- November 12, 1992: The Court of Appeals rules in favor of the ACLU in their case against Measure 8. The Oregon Attorney General refuses to appeal the case to the state’s Supreme Court.
- 1992-1993: OCA succeeds in passing watered-down local versions of the anti-LGBTQ Measure 9 in over 18 cities and counties.
- 1993: House Bill 3500 is passed by the state legislature, repealing all local laws that “single out citizens or groups of citizens on the basis of sexual orientation.”
- 1994: OCA sponsors another initiative to the ballot, Measure 13, which would prevent any civil rights legislation based on sexual orientation. It is defeated by a 3.1% margin. Activists who worked against Measure 13 team up in 1996 to found Basic Rights Oregon, a statewide organization committed to LGBTQ equality.
- August 1, 1998: Benton County becomes the first to include gender identity and expression in a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance, enacting protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
- 2000: A case brought to the Oregon Court of Appeals, Sims v. Besaw’s Cafe, challenges the city of Portland’s non-discrimination law. The Court rules that the city has a right to establish such a law.
- 2000: OCA sponsors its last initiative to date, again called Measure 9. Its language states the measure: “Prohibits Public School Instruction Encouraging, Promoting, Sanctioning Homosexual, Bisexual Behaviors”. It fails by a 5.8% margin.
- December 2000: Portland updates its existing law to extend non-discrimination protections to all LGBTQ people by adding inclusive language regarding gender identity and expression. In the months and years that follow, several other cities and counties, including Multnomah County Eugene, Lake Oswego, Bend, Beaver City, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and more update their laws to extend non-discrimination protections to all LGBTQ people. Each local ordinance builds momentum for statewide LGBTQ non-discrimination in Oregon.
- 2007: The Oregon Equality Act, which would enact statewide non-discrimination protections for all LGBTQ people, is introduced in the state legislature for the 34th time, and passes both the House and Senate.
- May 9, 2007: Governor Ted Kulongoski signs the Oregon Equality Act into law, establishing Oregon as a state with full LGBTQ non-discrimination protections.
Last Updated February 7, 2018