The grassroots effort to defeat the hateful anti-LGBTQ Measure 9 in 1992 reflected a profusion of creativity, commitment, and courage that collectively reached thousands of Oregonians, solidifying No votes and in some cases, changing hearts and minds.
New organizations sprang up as vehicles for those who wanted to take a different approach to the entire campaign. Others were created to focus on a particular strategy or audience. Some initiatives, like the extensive organizing within the labor movement and the collaborative Oregon Democracy Project, tapped into the skills and relationships of existing organizations.
Eric K. Ward was involved in several of these educational efforts — speaking on panels and radio programs, writing intersectional analysis, and helping to sponsor the Walk for Love & Justice.
“I saw firsthand how campaigns can help to develop leaders and build a movement. Personally, I Iearned how to speak to the public, in part through speaking out against Measure 9. Being invited into this statewide and regional progressive movement gave us, as a group based in Eugene, a lot of added credibility. More importantly, the interplay of all these organizations and efforts created cross-community solidarity and provided folks a broader understanding of the authoritarian attack on civil rights and democracy.”
~ Eric K. Ward
This month’s stories are about bridge-building — the courageous risks and personal truth-telling that helped to defeat one of the harshest antigay measures ever put to American voters. Each story offers a unique prism on how this epic battle for civil and human rights can impart lessons for today’s fight for inclusive democracy.
“I was so proud to be out and loud in my union,” Robert Doyle told us through our Contact Form. Learn more about how Oregon’s public employee unions helped lead the fight against Measure 9, through our conversations with union leaders then and now, and our reprint of organizer Beckie Capoferri’s section in NGLTF’s 1993 Fight the Right Action Kit.
“Teaching people to just think about it,” was the heart of the work, Anne Sweet says. “Helping them to make a personal connection, how Measure 9 would negatively impact them if this passed.” Read about some of the forms that outreach took, including the anti-oppression awareness Anne and others fostered in trainings and community settings; Elaine Vasquez and Barbara Bernstein’s video, “Fighting for Our Lives;” the Oregon Speak Out Project; and the Coalition for Human Dignity’s intersectional publications.
The Walk for Love & Justice proclaimed, “We will walk proudly and with purpose — taking the agenda out of the hands of the OCA and going directly to the people of Oregon, asking them to stand with us for justice and against hate.” Read more about this landmark event in our conversation with organizer Anne Galisky and participant Kelley Weigel.
“You are out on the front line of our movement. This Walk is about moral and spiritual values. You are walking in the tradition of the civil rights movement. You are not alone — every one of the 25 million American gays, lesbians, and bisexuals marches with you today.”
~ Urvashi Vaid (1958–2022), then executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, at the kickoff of the Walk for Love & Justice
This effort 30 years ago illustrates that every one of us can do something to be part of defending inclusive democracy — grounded in our values and what we choose to affirm through our courage and visibility.
To each person committed to defending democracy and all who are wondering what is asked of us in these fractious times, we hope that No on 9 Remembered encourages you to be brave. To take action and take heart.
To remembering the past and shaping the future,
Holly J. Pruett, Senior Fellow
No on 9 Remembered Co-Curator
P.S. A big shout out to ShoutOUT, the digital news outlet now serializing No on 9 Remembered in weekly posts. Western States Center also thanks GLAPN, the Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific NW, for inviting us to share No on 9 Remembered at their “Lessons of Measure 9” event last month. Wish you could have attended? Watch the event recording where we provide an overview of Measure 9, followed by a fantastic panel featuring Kathleen Saadat, Ramón Ramírez, Anne Galisky, and Pat Young (all featured on our site). Follow the GLAPN Calendar for other No on 9 commemorative events.