Oregon Senate candidate and current House Speaker Jeff Merkley has been endorsed by equal rights advocacy group Basic Rights Oregon. This is yet another endorsement for the House Speaker in his Senate race in Oregon. Just this past Friday, there was a Democratic primary debate. In Jeff Merkley’s opening statement he talked about how he fought for workers’ rights and environmental protections. He cited his huge accomplishments during the past 2007 legislation. Where he seemed to get the most fired up, was when he talked about his work for equal rights for gay and lesbian couples. Here’s what he said:
“I fought so hard for gay and lesbian families that Karen Minnis cut off my mic on the House floor and threatened to have state troopers remove me. But I kept right on fighting and in 2007 won passage of historic legislation for basic rights and domestic partnerships. And, today I’m proud to announce that my campaign has received the endorsement of Basic Rights Oregon”
If you’d like to watch the debate in full go here.
Merkley is not a Weak-Kneed Democrat
Back when Jeff Merkley was Minority Leader and the domestic partnerships legislation was about to be assigned to a House committee, Republican Karen Minnis blocked it. Minnis rewrote the House rules in order to prevent the bill from hitting the floor for an up or down vote. Jeff Merkley and many other gay rights activists were upset to say the least. Here’s a snippet from Gay Rights Watch about how upset Merkley was at the Republicans attempt to block this legislation from a vote:
Democratic Minority Leader Jeff Merkley (D- Portland) stood on the floor of the House this evening at around 7:15pm standing up for the rights of gay and lesbian Oregonians. I truly wish I could have seen this. I’m not sure of all the details, but from what I hear Jeff was not happy at all. Outraged at what Speaker Minnis did today to destroy House rules – he did not hold back. He was gavelled about 4 times before either being told that his microphone would be turned off – or it was actually turned off by Speaker Minnis. He was called into Speaker Minnis’ office to discuss the floor ‘dispute’. Pretty intense.
So thank you Representative Merkley, for sticking up for what you believe and fighting for the rights of GLBT Oregonians. We applaud you and your efforts.
I don’t know about you, but I wish more Democrats had the passion to fight for what is right. While Minnis may have effectively stalled the legislation’s passage back in 2005, the bill was eventually passed in the House and Senate and signed into law in 2007. Oregon joined nine other states in legally recognizing partnership rights for gay couples. The domestic partnerships legislation will give gay couples in the state of Oregon the same benefits married couples are awarded. The fight isn’t over here in Oregon, there are constant efforts by inequality groups to repeal the legislation.
Merkley not only had a hand in helping pass the domestic partnerships legislation, he also fought hard with fellow Democrats to pass historic anti-discrimination legislation. We passed a law in Oregon just days before the passage of domestic partnerships that states that discrimination based on sexual orientation is against the law. Jeff Merkley has been a strong leader for gay rights here in Oregon. I’m really hoping we can send Republican Gordon Smith packing, and replace him with a strong-willed progressive like Merkley. Don’t you think we’d all be better off if we had someone like Merkley fighting for us? I do, and that’s why I support Merkley’s candidacy 100%.