THE BLOG

Shame on You, Basic Rights Oregon

06/16/2014 08:48 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
  • James Owens Gay activist, fashion enthusiast, avid cardboard recycler, and father to Taco the Dog

I ran for a legislative seat here in Oregon and lost. But during the endorsement process I gained an interesting insight into politics: In the eyes of most LGBT groups, regardless of whether you're an avid supporter of LGBT rights, an "R" by your name is a scarlet letter.

If you look back at my previous blog posts, you can clearly see how much of an advocate for marriage equality I have been. From helping launch Freedom Oregon, a coalition of Republicans, conservatives and liberty-minded independents who support marriage equality, to leading the successful effort to pass marriage equality at Oregon's largest conservative conference (Dorchester) to my place on the leadership committee of the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry and everything in between, there is no doubt that, although I am a registered Republican, I have been on the front line of the fight for equality.

So when I learned that Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) Equality PAC would not be endorsing my campaign, I was shocked. Then I saw the endorsements . It became clear to me that BRO was not interested in pro-equality candidates at all. Every -- and I mean every -- single endorsement was for a Democrat.

In an email from Amy Herzfeld of BRO Equality PAC, I was told:

We focus on state legislative and statewide offices, where we are proud to endorse candidates who have a strong pro-equality record. As a matter of board policy, we typically do not engage in candidate review in contested Primaries with limited exceptions. Our Equality PAC board will be issuing a Primary only endorsement to Paul Evans, who was eligible for our review as the only Democrat in his race and met our endorsement criteria.

Paul Evans?! I challenge anyone to find anything that Paul Evans has ever done for equality or LGBT rights. So why did they endorse him? Because he has a "D" by his name. And furthermore, BRO said they do not endorse in contested races, so why did they endorse Tina Kotek? Her primary was contested. Why did they not endorse Julie Parrish? Julie was uncontested and is a very strong supporter of marriage equality. None of BRO's criteria add up.

BRO Equality PAC should be ashamed of themselves. Pretending to be pro-equality when in fact they are not is egregious. I have absolutely no problem with a Democrat organization endorsing pro-equality candidates, but do not pretend to be a single-issue organization when you clearly aren't. It is incredibly offensive to me, as a member of the LGBT community, and it should be offensive to every pro-equality human being.

Shame on you, Basic Rights Oregon.

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