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Basic Rights Oregon Is Fighting For LGTBQ+ Rights—and Winning
“Now, Oregon is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly states,” spokeswoman Liz Sauer says, “but our fight continues with a focus on transgender and racial justice.”
By Elise Herron
When it comes to enacting policies ensuring equality for LGBTQ citizens, Oregon is second only to California, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a national nonprofit that researches and ranks states' political progressiveness.
Many of the winning battles fought for Oregon's queer community can be attributed to Basic Rights Oregon, a Portland-based advocacy group that formed in 1996 in response to anti-gay ballot measures that had plagued the state for decades.
"Now, Oregon is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly states," spokeswoman Liz Sauer says, "but our fight continues with a focus on transgender and racial justice."
In 2017, Basic Rights helped pass legislation that makes it easier for transgender Oregonians to amend the name and gender on their birth certificates. The same year, with the organization's help, the Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicles division became the first in the nation to give drivers a gender X option, for "not specified," on state identification cards.
Last year, the group held the state's first Queer Town Hall for Oregonians to discuss concerns with legislators who are also LGTBQ individuals and people of color. And this legislative session, Basic Rights Oregon is likely to bridge yet more gaps in equality.
Adi's Act, or Senate Bill 52, would require all K-12 public schools in Oregon to adopt regulations for suicide prevention—with a focus specifically on addressing LGBTQ+ students, who are particularly at risk due to stigma and discrimination. It currently has over 25 sponsors in the House and Senate.
"The bill sends a clear message," Sauer says, "that all young people, no matter how they identify or who they love, should see a future for themselves in Oregon."