It is with a heavy heart that I write of the passing of Beatrice, a Great Lady and a Reliable Automobile. Beatrice was, as you may have previously read, my Subaru station wagon and primary transportation for the past 12 years. She was well over the 200,000 mile mark. It was her Time.
Wednesday was my first day living car-free. I am already accustomed to traveling on Denver's public transit, but have always considered it an inconvenient alternative to simply driving my way around town. I managed to get to work in the morning, lunch at Chipotle, shop at Tattered Cover, and finally a jaunt to the Denver Public Library Central Branch (where I checked out this book) — all via bus, light rail, and 16th St. shuttle. Having my school RTD pass was a godsend!
I can't honestly say how long this lifestyle will last. I hope to spend most of June in Portland with John, so the soonest I might look into finding a new car will be July. If I'm feeling REALLY confident getting around Denver on my own reconnaissance by then, maybe I'll decide to remain car-free until I move to Portland full-time next year.
Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski Signs Basic Fairness Legislation: House Bill 2007 and Senate Bill 2
Kulongoski answers moral call to treat all Oregonians with fairness and dignity, to provide Oregon families with needed rights and responsibilities in times of crisis
(Salem, Oregon) This morning, in a public ceremony attended by well over 100 citizens and legislators, Governor Ted Kulongoski signed two bills into law ensuring that all Oregon families are treated with basic fairness and that all Oregonians can live and work free from the sting of discrimination, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.
In a passionate speech at the signing ceremony, Basic Rights Oregon's Executive Director John Hummel told the crowd, "Our hope is simple. It is for the day when Oregon families will no longer be forced into uncertainty in times of crisis, and when no Oregonian will be fired from their job, denied housing or denied an education--simply because of who they are or who they love. Today marks a moment in time when Oregonians proudly made hope a reality, and created a fairer, more equal Oregon."
House Bill 2007, the Oregon Family Fairness Act, creates legal recognition for same-sex couples and their families through Domestic Partnerships. These Domestic Partnerships provide some, but not all, of the protections, rights, and responsibilities afforded to straight couples through marriage contract. It is different from marriage in several important ways, including the lack of portability to other states and lack of more than 1100 federal rights like Social Security survivor benefits.
"This pro-family bill will bolster family security, by providing critical protections in times of crisis," said Hummel. "It is a tremendous step toward equality."
Senate Bill 2 outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation in areas such as employment, housing, public accommodation, public education and public services. Religious employers, organizations and institutions are exempt.
"After 34 years of working to end discrimination, this law was long overdue." commented Hummel. "The Oregon Equality Act creates uniform law across Oregon so that protection from discrimination doesn't depend on one's zip code and the rules for employers, landlords and business owners are clear and consistent."
The passage of these bills carries national implications as well. According to an analysis released today by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, recent passage of anti-discrimination legislation in four new states, including Oregon, has resulted in "the percentage of the U.S. population living in a jurisdiction protecting lesbian, gay and bisexual people from discrimination [to] rise to 52 percent, crossing the halfway mark for the first time."
The study also noted that "Five years ago (in 2002) just one state, Vermont with 0.2 percent of the [U.S.] population, offered broad protections to same-sex couples. When the bills passed this session take effect, seven states (California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon and Vermont), with 20 percent of the population, will offer broad protections to same-sex couples."
Responded Hummel to the Task Force study, "Once again Oregon is a national leader in providing basic fairness to all its families. Today is a proud day to be an Oregonian."
Basic Rights Oregon is very pleased to announce that John Hummel will be joining our staff as Executive Director!
We deeply appreciate all of the input we received from BRO supporters throughout our search process, and we are confident that our extensive search has allowed us to find the right person to lead Basic Rights Oregon. John is a passionate advocate for the GLBT community and is equally passionate about the specific political, organizing and advocacy work of Basic Rights Oregon.
John has a long history of commitment to the GLBT community. He became actively involved with the GLBT civil rights movement in his native state Idaho. He was the first openly gay attorney in the state. Hummel helped organize Idaho's first gay pride and activist organization, Your Family, Friends & Neighbors (YFFN). YFFN produced Boise's first public pride celebration in 1990. Hummel served as president of YFFN and the Idaho AIDS Foundation, and was active as a cooperating attorney for the Idaho ACLU.
YFFN activists became the nucleus of the No On One Coalition, the campaign that defeated Idaho's statewide anti-gay ballot initiative, Proposition One, in 1994. Hummel served on the staff of the No On One Coalition, and his companion Brian Bergquist, who died in 1998, served as the campaign's chairperson.
John is currently the legal director of The Center's Legal Initiatives Project (CLIP). CLIP is the legal services outreach program of The Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of Colorado, Inc., based in Denver. Its mission is to promote the equality, dignity, and human rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and those with HIV and AIDS.
John and his partner Ben Riggs will be moving to Oregon in May, and John will officially join the Basic Rights Oregon team on May 7th. At that time there will be opportunities to meet John through community meetings.