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target Oregon's new rights laws

target Oregon's new rights laws

Opponents of two gay rights measures signed into law this month by Oregon governor Ted Kulongoski have mounted a petition drive to block their enforcement pending a popular vote.

The rights foes, led byJack Brown, chairman of the fringe Constitution Party of Oregon, have until August 15 to collect 55,179 signatures to put the questions on a statewide ballot.

That relatively low threshold gives them an excellent chance, said Bryan Boyd, communications coordinator of the gay rights group Basic Rights Oregon.

"But passage? We're actually very confident, based on polling, that Oregonians will vote against discrimination," Boyd told on Tuesday.

The laws, signed May 9, create domestic partnerships for Oregon gay men and lesbians and outlaw discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace, public accommodations, and housing. Both are set to take effect January 1.

If the rights foes qualify their initiatives, however, as is likely, enforcement of the laws will be delayed until after the November 2008 general election, so that even if the antigay proposals are defeated, LGBT Oregonians will lose a year of legally conferred rights.

"We are conscious that the lives and livelihoods of hundreds and thousands of Oregonians are at stake," Boyd said, predicting "a battle, and it's going to be nasty.

"So we'll be looking at every signature to make sure it is genuine," he said. "We will not let one slip by."

Brown, of Grants Pass, told The [Portland] Oregonian newspaper he is mounting his effort because he sees the laws as defying the spirit of a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2004 that limits marriage to a man and a woman.

"Even though the legislature knew what the intent of the voters was, they ignored it," he told the newspaper. (Barbara Wilcox, The Advocate)

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