“I think we learned a lot from the experience. I was really happy that in the end, after going through this pressure-cooker experience, we were able to win. That was very, very significant. It gave people in the community at least a moment of respite. And the campaign changed the direction of my life.”
~ Thalia Zepatos
In nine months of No on 9 Remembered, we’ve discussed the historical context of this vicious ballot measure and what was at stake. We’ve revisited the deadly violence. We’ve told stories from many diverse communities — from African American, Latinx, and Asian Pacific Islander leaders to police officers, journalists, faith leaders, and Republicans. We’ve profiled some of the many cultural, educational, and organizing innovations from that time.
But we haven’t yet told the story of what it was like to be inside the campaign as a full-time staff organizer. Or the story of the lawsuit that eventually shut the Oregon Citizens Alliance down. This month, we finish our project with movement heroes Thalia Zepatos, Catherine Stauffer, and Charlie Hinkle, and offer a recap of voices from all 30 stories.
While many in the community and the campaign were fiercely debating whether to focus narrowly on winning 50%+1 on Election Day — or more broadly, on ending homophobia and securing everyone’s civil rights — there were some who worked hard in every moment to find ways to do both. Thalia Zepatos believed it was possible to build a long-term movement to secure and defend civil rights through the unchosen crucible of short-term ballot measure campaigns. For four decades, she has worked to make that vision a reality. Read more.
Lawsuits couldn’t prevent the costly political campaigns required to defeat the Oregon Citizens Alliance’s hateful measures at the ballot box. But a lawsuit brought by Catherine Stauffer — a 22 -year-old radical activist — ended up holding the OCA accountable, sending Lon Mabon to jail for 42 days, and eventually shutting the organization down. Read more.
Thirty stories for the 30 years since we defeated Measure 9 — look back on the many voices that helped us remember.
“We have to become a movement that understands the long arc of history. Learning from earlier struggles teaches us discipline and helps prevent the sin of despair. In a time where some seek to erase or deny our nation’s history, remembering the stories that are part of the movement for inclusive democracy is a powerful act of resistance and redemption.”
~ Eric K. Ward
A year ago, when Eric first suggested that we commemorate the 30th anniversary of this epic campaign, we knew it would be deeply relevant to today’s fight for inclusive democracy. We didn’t know that relevance would grow frighteningly deeper every day — with rising political violence and attacks on trans and queer rights, once again, building power for a white Christian nationalist vision of America.
As we offer this final month of stories, we thank and honor all who gave so generously of their time, their insights, and their hearts as part of No on 9 Remembered. It wasn’t easy for any of us who lived through that time to revisit it. But with each conversation, we tasted the courage and creativity, the depth of commitment, the breadth of solidarity — and it all felt worth it, once more.
These stories from 30 years ago illustrate that every one of us has a stake in defending inclusive democracy — grounded in our values and what we choose to affirm through our courage and visibility. 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
Eric K. Ward, Senior Advisor
No on 9 Remembered Co-Curators