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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE ACLU Challenges Anti-Gay Initiative Adopted By Oregon Town; Files Lawsuit in State Court Against Springfield Measure For IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 23, 1993 In a continuing drive to overturn anti-gay ballot initiatives, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon is challenging the constitutionality of a municipal law that equates sexual orientation and homosexuality with pedophilia, sadism and masochism. In a lawsuit filed on January 19 in Lane County Circuit Court in Oregon, the ACLU says that the amendment to the Springfield City Charter, adopted last May, violates a number of federal and state constitutional guarantees, including the rights to equal protection and freedom of expression. The lawsuit also says that the anti-gay amendment amounts to a government endorsement of a particular religious viewpoint. Filed only days after a Colorado judge prohibited that state from enforcing its recently approved anti-gay initiative, the Oregon lawsuit asks the Court to temporarily block enforcement of the law while it considers its constitutionality. "This ballot measure," said David Fidanque, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oregon, "was an attempt to take away the rights of a minority of Springfield citizens." "If the rights of one minority group can be denied -- whether that minority is a racial minority, a political minority, a religious minority or a sexual minority -- if the rights of that minority are taken away, then the rights of all of us are in danger," Fidanque said. The Springfield initiative would forbid the city council or any other elected or appointed officers to adopt any "law, ordinance, rule or resolution" that includes mention of "sexual orientation," "sexual preference" and "similar phrases that include homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism or masochism." The Springfield amendment was similar to one considered and defeated statewide in Oregon in November. It is more virulent, but equally damaging, than the initiative adopted in Colorado. Ruth E. Harlow, Staff Attorney with the ACLU's national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, called the Springfield amendment "an embarassment for the city." "It is sad that the voters of Springfield paid more attention to the irrational fear and hatred of right-wing zealots than to our Constitution and what it stands for," Harlow said. "We hope our lawsuit will call attention to the basic American value, embodied in the Constitution, of respecting our differences." Seven states and more than 100 municipalities currently have laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. "Ever since the first laws protecting gay people from discrimination were enacted in the 1970s, we have been fighting this type of backlash and hatred," said William B. Rubenstein, the Director of the ACLU's national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "The Springfield amendment is among the most recent examples of a sad history of bigotry against lesbians and gay men that continues into the 1990s." --endit-- ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


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