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By George T. Nicola
Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN)
Last updated 7/15/2014
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The following are, by date, some events that have been important in the quest for Oregon LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) equality and dignity.  These are certainly not all the events, but a few major ones which we know for certain occurred on a specific date.

If you believe you are the victim of discrimination based on your sexual orientation or your gender identity, please contact the Oregon Bureau of Labor’s Civil Rights Division through   

February 7, 1970
John Wilkinson, a gay staff member of the Willamette Bridge newspaper, writes an article that leads him and lesbian staff member Holly Hart to start the Portland Gay Liberation Front. It would be Oregon’s first politically oriented LGBTQ organization. 


January 1, 1972
Oregon’s criminal code revision takes effect, eliminating provisions that have made most types of adult, private, consensual, non-commercial homosexual conduct illegal.

January 18, 1973
A U.S. District Court rules that the firing of Oregon public school teacher Peggy Burton based on her lesbianism was "wrongful". It awards her $10,000 in damages, plus a modest amount of attorney fees. However, the court refuses to reinstate her to her old position, on the grounds that reinstatement would not work in the small town where she had taught. 

April 17, 1973
The Oregon District Branch of the American Psychiatric Association issues a statement supporting an equal employment law for gay men and lesbians, stating that it is in the best interest of mental health. 
“No evidence exists that proves that homosexuals function less well in occupations than heterosexuals.” Thus, “A policy of judging job applicants on their individual merit would be most consistent with the furthering of each person’s mental health.”

May 2, 1973
An Oregon House committee holds an historic hearing on HB 2930, Oregon’s first bill that would have banned job and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

July 3, 1973
Oregon’s first bill that would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation misses passage in the Oregon House by just two votes short of a majority.

December 18, 1974
The City of Portland passes a resolution which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation in municipal employment, the first such victory in Oregon.


June 25, 1977
The newspaper Oregon Journal publishes an article about gay activist Susie Shepherd and her parents who cofounded PFLAG Portland. The article explains how Ann and Bill Shepherd have come to accept their daughter’s sexual orientation and now support gay civil rights. 

October 24, 1977
The City of Eugene passes an ordinance banning discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation. 
It is the first legal measure in Oregon banning sexual orientation discrimination in an area other than just city employment.

May 23, 1978
Eugene voters approve Ballot Measure 51, overturning the city’s ordinance which had banned sexual orientation discrimination.

May 15, 1986
Portland based Cascade AIDS Project (CAP) is born. It provides education, services, and funding.

October 14, 1987
Governor Neil Goldschmidt issues an executive order banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in the executive branch of state government.

November 8, 1988
In an initiative driven by the Oregon Citizens Alliance, voters approve Ballot Measure 8, overturning Governor Goldschmidt’s executive order which had banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in the executive branch of state employment.


October 3, 1991
The City of Portland passes an ordinance that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations. This is the first sexual orientation civil rights law in Oregon that was not repealed by a ballot measure.

May 19, 1992
Judge Janice Wilson, who identifies as lesbian and who had been appointed the previous year to fill a vacancy on an Oregon District Court, is elected to retain her seat.
As a result, she becomes the first openly LGBTQ person to be elected to public office in Oregon.(

November 3, 1992
Oregon voters defeat Ballot Measure 9 which would have banned sexual orientation non-discrimination laws and required public schools to teach that homosexuality is “abnormal, wrong, unnatural, and perverse”.
That same day, lesbian Gail Shibley is elected to the Oregon House seat to which she had been appointed in 1991, becoming the first openly LGBTQ person elected to the Oregon Legislature.

November 12, 1992
The Oregon Court of Appeals rules that Ballot Measure 8, passed in 1988 to undo protection from sexual orientation discrimination in state government, is unconstitutional.  The ruling states that the Oregon Constitution protects ''free and open expression about sexual orientation”.

November 8, 1994
Oregon voters defeat Ballot Measure 13.  The initiative was titled “Amends Constitution: Governments Cannot Approve, Create Classifications Based on, Homosexuality”.  Among other things, the amendment would have prevented anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation. 
Subsequently, Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) is founded to fight any further such anti-gay ballot measures and to advocate for LGBTQ equality.   

December 9, 1998
In Tanner v. OHSU, the Oregon Court of Appeals rules that public agencies must provide benefits to the same-gender partners of employees if they provide those benefits to the spouses of heterosexual married employees.

November 7, 2000
Oregon voters defeat yet another anti-gay Ballot Measure 9.  Its official description was “Prohibits Public School Instruction Encouraging, Promoting, Sanctioning Homosexual, Bisexual Behaviors”.
It is the last anti-gay ballot measure to be sponsored by the Oregon Citizens Alliance.

December 13, 2000
The Portland City Council votes to ban discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

June 3, 2003
Portland’s Q Center is incorporated.
The center’s purpose is to provide dedicated space for LGBTQ community groups to gather, organize, socialize, educate, heal, and move the movement forward. In 2006 Q Center opens its first “bricks and mortar” facility in the inner Southeast warehouse district, and quickly outgrows the 1,000 square feet of space. In 2009, Q Center moves to its present home on North Mississippi Avenue while expanding its programmatic reach. Q Center’s mission is to provide a safe space to support and celebrate LGBTQ diversity, visibility, and community building.

(Information provided in an email from Paul Fukui of Q Center)

March 3, 2004
Multnomah County begins granting marriage licenses to same-gender couples.  The issuances are discontinued on April 20 by court order.


November 2, 2004
Oregon voters approve ballot Measure 36, which bans same-gender marriage by constitutional amendment.
On the same day, Justice Rives Kistler, an openly gay man, wins a statewide election to retain his Oregon Supreme Court position to which he had been appointed in 2003.

May 9, 2007
Governor Ted Kulongoski signs into law a ban on discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and other areas based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  He also signs a bill creating a domestic partner registry system allowing same sex couples most of the benefits of marriage.

November 4, 2008
Democrat Kate Brown, who openly identifies as bisexual, is elected Oregon Secretary of State, the second highest state position in Oregon public office.  Sam Adams is elected Mayor of Portland, becoming the first openly gay mayor of one of the 30th largest U.S. cities.  Stu Rasmussen, who is transgender, is elected mayor of Silverton.

January 3, 2011
Lynn Nakamoto, an LGBTQ equality activist, is appointed to the Oregon Court of Appeals.
She wins the election to retain that position in November of 2012. In the early 1990s, Lynn was a cofounder of the Asian Pacific Islander Lesbians and Gays (APLG), now called Asian Pacific Islander Pride. She is the first Asian American to sit on the Oregon Court of Appeals. 

November 15, 2012
Oregon Representative Tina Kotek is chosen to be House Speaker, becoming the first openly lesbian leader of a state legislative chamber anywhere in the U.S., and the first openly LGBTQ person to head an Oregon legislative chamber.

December 19, 2012
The State of Oregon announces it will prohibit health care providers from discriminating against a policy holder based on their actual or perceived gender identity and expression.

February 14, 2013
LGBTQ rights group Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) announces it will work toward a ballot measure that will legalize same-gender marriage in the state.
A coalition creates Oregon United for Marriage to sponsor and promote the measure.

August 24, 2013
People from a broad coalition, including a large contingent of LGBTQ people and allies, march in Portland to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.  A rally that follows includes an eloquent speech by black gay activist Khalil Edwards.
(First person report)

October 3, 2013
Portlanders Carmen Gutiérrez of El Salvador and Cesar Higgins of Colombia receive permanent U.S. residency through their same-gender spouses.
They’re among the first in Oregon to receive green cards as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the United States v. Windsor.

May 19, 2014
U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane, who is openly gay, issues his decision in consolidated cases Geiger v. Kitzhaber and Rummell v. Kitzhaber. He rules that Oregon laws banning same-gender marriage are unconstitutional. Weddings start the same day. The planned ballot measure to overturn the ban is dropped since it is no longer necessary.





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