Marriage Equality – A Matter of the Heart

By JEANA FRAZZINI, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon

Valentine’s Day is a time to reveal what’s in our hearts, to express our love for family, friends and that special someone. What better time to speak up for the Freedom to Marry?

Here in Oregon, loving and committed gay and lesbian couples are excluded from marriage. That has real consequences for families who, like so many of us, weather the ups and downs of building a life together. These are families  who share Oregon values, like the importance of caring and protecting those we love, helping out our neighbors, sticking it out when times get tough.


That’s what we do as Oregonians, and as families. And nothing says family like marriage.

That’s what Americans around the country will see today on a public education ad being broadcast nationwide on CNN as part of a national campaign launched by our partners at Freedom to Marry. The ad was developed here by Basic Rights Oregon and features the real stories of Oregon couples talking about love, commitment and marriage.

That’s also what Oregonians can see in “Cards From the Heart,” on display in partnership with the Q Center in Portland and at the Basic Rights Oregon office in Eugene. These stories from around Oregon – gay and straight folks, individuals and couples – show why marriage matters.

Now is the time to lend our voices to this important conversation. Oregonians believe in treating others as one would want to be treated. And more and more Oregonians believe that includes allowing committed gay and lesbian couples to join in civil marriage.

This Valentine’s Day, let’s honor the love we share with family and friends by speaking out for the freedom to marry. We are the most effective spokespersons to the people in our lives, and have all the information needed simply speaking from the heart. For inspiration, visit www.lovecommitmentmarriage.org

As Oregonians we can move forward together toward marriage equality. There have been efforts – including Oregon’s domestic partnership law – to provide same-sex couples the basic protections all other families rely on. Although these steps help, they fall short. In Oregon, as elsewhere, domestic partners have been kept from a dying partner’s bedside without the chance to say goodbye to the love of their life. That doesn’t happen to couples who are  married.

Nothing is as clear and secure as marriage. Everyone knows what marriage means, and what it says about how much those in a marriage mean to each other.

When we marry, we publicly reveal what’s in our hearts and promise to love and care for one another through all life brings. We stand before friends and family as witnesses, asking them to hold us accountable to that lifelong, loving commitment. Won’t you join us in taking a public stand to support marriage for all loving and committed couples in Oregon?

Sign the pledge at www.lovecommitmentmarriage.org. and start the conversation today!

Love. Commitment. Marriage.

That’s at the heart of it all,

Jeana Frazzini
Executive Director
Basic Rights Oregon

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The American Chemistry Council is Unfortunately Not a Group of High School Science Teachers

Nearly 40 years ago, Oregon began to solidify its reputation as an environmental pioneer with the introduction of the famed Bottle Bill. Now, we’re making headlines again for potentially being the first state in the nation to ban plastic bags in grocery stores and retail shops.

Environmentally, it would be a bold move for the state, given the fact that plastic bags fill our landfills without ever decomposing and drive up costs for recyclers. (Because so many people mistakenly throw plastic bags into curbside recycling bins, the bags gum up recycling machinery and have to be cleaned out.)

But it’s also ticked off a small group of people who make a lot of money off of the plastic bag industry. And you know what that means—The Invasion of the Out-Of-State Corporate Lobbyists!

Banning plastic grocery sacks has been on the Oregon Legislature’s docket for several years. Since 2009, proponents have made their case across the state – locally and in the legislature. The issue had its first hearing for this year’s legislative session on Tuesday.

Enter the Washington, DC-based American Chemistry Council, which isn’t, we were bummed to discover, an association of high school science teachers, but is, in fact, a lobbying group for the plastics industry.

The American Chemistry Council has spent more than $85,000 on lobbying against the plastic bag ban since 2009 (not including the current session), and as reported by Willamette Week donated $1,000 each to 15 key lawmakers from both parties before last year’s election.

Last month, according to the Oregonian, a “mystery poll” was conducted among Oregon residents, seemingly as an attempt to test negative opinions on the ban. Pollsters asked participants questions clearly slanted against the ban, including whether participants would rather the Legislature protect the economy, build jobs or ban plastic bags. Misconceptions such as the “bag police pursuing Oregonians” and the idea that there are harmful contaminates in reusable bags, were also used.

Questions in the poll also suggested that grocers would make millions in profits by charging 5 cents for a paper checkout bag. That question must not have polled well, because opponents have recently changed their talking points. A recent post on the conservative Oregon Catalyst blog by American Chemistry Council rep Tim Shestek talks about the supposed hardship small grocers and convenience stores would face if forced to buy paper bags. (Note: The Northwest Grocers Association and other grocery lobbyists are in favor of the bill.)

Opponents were also represented by someone from Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the DC-based lobbying group. (Norquist is nationally famous for saying he wants to drown government in a bathtub, but his biggest impact on Oregon so far has been giving Bill Sizemore his start in initiative politics. Thanks for that one, Grover!)

Tuesday was just the first hearing of what will probably be a long path through the state legislature for the bag ban. (We hope the out-of-state lobbyists enjoy their stay in Oregon. May we suggest a hike through Silver Falls State Park? If you happen to see any stray plastic bags fluttering along the ground, could you stop to pick ‘em up?)

If you want to track the bill’s progress, the Oregonian has set up a tracker here: http://gov.oregonlive.com/bill/2011/SB536/

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Today’s Clips – February 10, 2011

School budget and local taxes to fill gaps in funding continue to be discussed on this chilly Thursday. Local districts meet to make plans, and community colleges are briefed on how cuts will affect them.

Legislators buckle down for a difficult session as both revenue raising ideas and more budget cuts are brought up.


Critics, including Economic Fairness Oregon, question Wells Fargo’s announcement that they intend to help homeowners facing foreclosure, and Basic Rights Oregon will be in the national spotlight on Monday (Valentine’s Day) as CNN airs their marriage equality ad featuring four Oregon couples.

School funding, local taxes

School districts, governor discuss funding
MyCentralOregon
"Several Oregon school districts are considering local taxes to rescue ailing budgets. But Governor John Kitzhaber says he hopes school districts will take his advice, look at other ways to balance their budgets and look at the bigger picture of statewide education funding. He has asked school district to avoid any new local taxes, but he won’t oppose them, should they cross his desk."

Kitzhaber recommends no local school taxes
East Oregonian
"Gov. John Kitzhaber has recommended that school districts avoid new local taxes — but he’s not going to oppose them. Last week, the governor summoned education leaders to Salem for a meeting that included leaders from Eugene, Portland, Lake Oswego and Clackamas County who are considering asking voters to approve new property or income taxes in response to projected cuts in school budgets in their communities."

School-based health clinics get Kitzhaber’s support
KUOW
"Oregon’s budget shortfall could lead to deep cuts to a program that provides basic health care for low-income school students. Backers of the school-based health centers got a moral boost Wednesday when Governor John Kitzhaber addressed a rally in their support."

Colleges briefed on cuts
The Dalles Chronicle
"Gov. John Kitzhaber’s proposed 2011-12 budget lowers funding for Oregon’s community colleges from $417 million to $410 million. That reduction follows a $47 million drop in state funding for these colleges since 2006, according to Andrea Henderson, executive director of the Oregon Community College Association. She briefed the Columbia Gorge Community College Board of Education Tuesday about the grim budget scenario that legislators are grappling with and the potential for numerous program cuts."

4J school tax meeting
KEZI
"The 4J School Board is meeting Wednesday night, to talk about what kind of impact a proposed city-wide income tax would have on its district. Also on the table is a possible bond measure to fix some of the district’s budget problems. The city of Eugene asked 4J to come up with a dollar amount for its needs, as well as to decide details about income tax brackets and rates needed to raise that amount of money. Also up for discussion is an analysis of getting a 4J bond measure on the May or November ballot."

Forest Grove school community summit zeros in on four-day week, consolidation, elimination of electives as ways to cut budget
Oregonian
"Four community summits down, one to go. And a whole lot of small group research in the meantime. Followed by a whole lot of administrative decision making afterward. Forest Grove’s Community Summit on Education — the 103-member committee of residents tasked with establishing educational priorities in the face of the district’s expected $7 million to $10 million budget shortfall for next year — spent the bulk of its meeting Tuesday expanding upon prior suggestions for trimming the Forest Grove School District’s budget."

OPINION: Oregon schools: Freight train coming, and the ESDs aren’t ready
Oregonian
"SUSAN NIELSEN — Lobbyist Ozzie Rose sounded pretty alone in Salem on Tuesday, trying to fend off change with all his might. He represents the Oregon Association of Education Service Districts, and his job is to defeat a bill that would take hundreds of millions from his clients and give it straight to local school districts. The passage of Senate Bill 250 seems almost inevitable, given the clamor for reform and the longtime grumbling about waste in ESDs."

Money, money, money

EDITORIAL: A sound plan for savings
Democrat Herald
"Republicans in the Oregon House are not fond of the idea of limiting kicker rebates in order to save for a rainy day. But the idea as proposed by Sen. Frank Morse of Albany has the advantage that it might do the job where other methods probably would not. The notion that Oregon would benefit from a substantial reserve fund hardly needs defending now that all the talk is about cutting this, closing that and maybe holding school only four days a week."

Local legislators buckle down for a difficult session
Newberg Graphic
"The Oregon Legislature convened last month for what promises to be, if nothing else, an interesting session — the two major parties have an almost even share of power in the body and together they must tackle a monumental challenge in the form of a $3.5 billion budget hole. But despite the challenges, area legislators remain optimistic and upbeat about the 2011 session. ‘The session is going incredibly well so far,’ said state Rep. Jim Weidner (R-Yamhill), whose district includes Dundee."

Tax credits for remodeling projects would add jobs, House Republicans say
Register Guard
"Oregon House Republicans rolled out their job stimulus plan today, which would offer tax breaks for home and business remodeling projects. The bill, similar to one they tried two years ago, got a lukewarm reception from members of the House Transportation and Economic Development Committee. House Co-speaker Bruce Hanna and Rep. Tim Freeman, both Roseburg Republicans, tried to blunt criticism that the bill would spend state taxpayer dollars on new swimming pools and granite counters."

Legislators might take a close look at business taxes
Statesman Journal
"Oregon lawmakers took the first steps Wednesday toward discussion of a value-added tax as a potential replacement for some business taxes. ‘I would not want to signal that we are about to switch to a value-added tax,’ said Rep. Vicki Berger, R-Salem, the co-chairwoman of the House Revenue Committee. ‘But there is a lot of unhappiness with what we have. So we need to talk about what alternatives are out there.’"

Lawmakers could roll back business tax hikes
Register Guard
"A controversial tax increase for businesses approved by voters a year ago would be scaled back under several bills being considered by Oregon lawmakers. Last year’s tax hike has been one of the most hotly debated topics in Oregon. Opponents contend it has stifled job growth. Supporters say the money protects education and health care. Rolling back the tax hikes from Measure 67 is a top priority for Republicans, who increased their clout in Salem following November’s election."

EDITORIAL: Put state troopers back on the gas tax
Oregonian
"Time has demonstrated that Oregon voters made a mistake three decades ago when they separated the state police patrol from its primary funding source. Now we know: A sure way to sap the strength of a police agency is to sever it from a dedicated revenue source and force it to compete for money against every other public service, including schools."

Plastic bag ban debated

Local groups press state to ban plastic bags
Portland Tribune
"The plastic bag debate is a full-on battle at the state Legislature. Several Portland environmental groups showed up on Tuesday in support of Senate Bill 536, which would impose a 5-cent fee on plastic bags at the checkout counter. Shoppers would be encouraged to use paper bags or bring their own reusable bags instead."

The proposed Oregon plastic bag ban: tax or not?
Oregonian
‘Oregon State Sen. Mark Hass, one of the chief sponsors of the bill that would ban plastic checkout bags, was quick to jump on an industry official who charged at a hearing Tuesday night that it would "impose a multi-million-dollar tax on Oregon taxpayers.’ ‘We have a legal opinion that this is not a tax,’ Hass shot back, adding that it was simply wrong to refer to Senate Bill 536 that way.  ‘Let’s play within the rules, let’s stick to the facts,’ he said."

Other headlines

Wells Fargo takes aim at home loans
Portland Tribune
"Think of it as a giant ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ show for distressed homeowners. Wells Fargo — Portland’s dominant home lender — is inviting thousands of borrowers who are behind on their house payments, or in jeopardy of falling behind, to meet with lending officers to seek loan “workouts” that reduce their monthly payments."

CNN to air same-sex marriage ad with Oregon couples on Valentine’s Day
WWeek
"Before that cynical voice in your head takes control and you swear off Valentine’s Day as nothing more than a commercial holiday, tune into CNN this Monday to see a national ad campaign in support of same-sex marriage. You might even see someone you know. Throughout the day Feb. 14, a commercial featuring four Oregon couples (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eG7anmAVr8E&feature=player_embedded) —two gay, two straight—will air nationwide as the beginning of a series of ads from Freedom to Marry."

Your next Metro councilor? How about former Oregon Gov. Barbara Roberts?
Oregonian
"Former Oregon Gov. Barbara Roberts dashed in at the last minute Wednesday and filed for appointment to the Metro Council. Roberts is the biggest name among some heavy hitters who seek to succeed Robert Liberty as the District 6 councilor. She was Oregon’s first woman governor, elected in 1990 and serving a four-year term. Before that she served two terms as secretary of state and was a state representative."

Former Gov. Barbara Roberts applies for Metro Council vacancy

WWeek
"Here’s a late-breaker: Former Gov. Barbara Roberts is among the eight applicants looking to fill the vacancy on the Metro Council. That’s an intriguing wild card in the mix to replace Councilor Robert Liberty, whostepped down last month to take a job at the University of Oregon. Roberts is a Democrat who was governor from 1991 until 1995, and remains a go-to ex-pol when it comes to candidates for other elected positions seeking endorsements."

OPINION: Legislators shouldn’t govern PERS and benefit from it, too
Register Guard
"The year 1975 was a turning point. It was the year that the Oregon Ethics Code became effective. It was also the year that the Oregon Legislature, despite the ethics code, passed a law allowing them to join retroactively the Public Employees Retirement System. With most legislators in PERS, control over PERS shifted in 1975 from the people to PERS-covered legislators."

State taking bigger bite of paychecks – that way more will get refunds, not owe
KTVZ
"Did your paycheck shrink in January? For many, it did. Part of the reason is the state has upped the withholding tables a bit, to make sure fewer taxpayers will have to pay more at the end of the year, and more will get refunds. Though the state is taking more money from you every pay period, depending on your income, you should get most of it back later."

One Response to “Today’s Clips – February 10, 2011”

  1. Anonymous

    Why is there nothing stating that we could have a sales tax that would stop all the cuts . A sales tax period, 2% on everything including food. I cant afford allot of money but i know that i could afford a small tax. Do one, straight across, all incomes and everybody , All people, All Oregonians. Why are we not thinking about this ,? We could change the waste that does not need to be spent and deal with that later .
    If I could pay a tax ,then so could every body else. We need to find an innovative way of being the FIRST TO MAKE US A BUDGET SURPLUS STATE, and a small sales tax would do it .If we want the services and the education and or ,all other services IE: police ,corrections , home care, transportation, ssi ,food stamps ,Tanf , Medicaid ect , road repair, heat help , senior services,schools , universities, Community colleges and more beneficial things.
    Then we have to pay for it, all of us. ALL OF US.

    Dont do it on the backs of home owners because then you end up with a tax that is heavily burdened on only one tax payer type or two or only some businesses, because the rates keep going up and nobody else pays for these things.
    DO it with a sales tax on everything so that everybody shares the burden
    Small but inconsequential . It would be unnoticed in the long run. a small tax is ok for the short term . Ask the voters . AND
    If they are stupid enough to say no ,then i guess that you the legislators are already doing what you think, that is, what you think the voters would say, is No, for a sales tax that would help the budget.
    Then i would have to apologize for my ignorance . and hope that our state will really be the one that is viewed as innovative or socially responsible after there was no recourse to stop the damage from the cuts.

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