More About the Measure
With Colorado, Oregon was one of two test cases in 1992 for statewide referenda by conservative “family values” groups attempting to prevent and revoke anti-discrimination laws. The Oregon Citizen Alliance’s Measure 9 went further, tying homosexuality to pedophilia and sadomasochism, and mandating that schools and government agencies teach it to be such.
Lon Mabon, chair of the OCA, called it “a simple battle between good and evil.” Inflammatory newspapers printed by the OCA and distributed door to door statewide claimed, among other things, that homosexuals regularly ingest and wallow in feces, recruit children to their addictive lifestyle, and are 90 times more likely to be pedophiles. According to the OCA, homosexuals wanted “special rights for wrong behaviors,” and were seeking affirmative action and quotas in the workplace -- explaining that it would take jobs from normal folks, and deprive deserving minorities of their own “special rights."
Statewide, the resulting discourse on the dangers and morality of homosexuality thrived, and in this climate of fear, anti-gay attacks increased 500%. Portland alone reported more reports of violence that year than San Francisco, Chicago or New York City.
While Ballot Measure 9 was defeated, a similar initiative was passed by voters that same day in Colorado. The legal challenge to Colorado's Amendment 2 went to the U.S. Supreme Court (Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996)), where it was found unconstitutional. Justice Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion, "We must conclude that Amendment 2 classifies homosexuals not to further a proper legislative end but to make them unequal to everyone else... The amendment seems inexplicable by anything but animus toward the class that it affects."
Basic Rights Oregon offers a timeline of the long struggle for LGBTQ rights in Oregon.
Read the Measure
If approved by voters, Measure 9 would have added the following language to the Oregon Constitution:
(1) This state shall not recognize any categorical provision such as 'sexual preference,' and similar phrases that include homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism or masochism. Quotas, minority status, affirmative action, or any similar concepts shall not apply to these forms of conduct, nor shall government promote these behaviors.
(2) State, regional and local governments and their properties and monies shall not be used to promote, encourage, or facilitate homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism or masochism.
(3) State, regional and local governments and their departments, agencies and other entities, including specifically the state Department of Higher Education and the public schools, shall assist in setting a standard for Oregon’s youth that recognizes homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism and masochism as abnormal, wrong, unnatural, and perverse and that these behaviors are to be discouraged and avoided.