Portland, OR. “That was incredible,” said Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon Nancy Haque, (pictured eighth from the left above in pre-covid days). She was reacting to a recent Supreme Court ruling. “People have been working for decades to get this kind of protection for the LGBTQ community, and to get that victory now, when we really needed a victory, felt really good.” Hague was weighing in about the June 15th Supreme Court ruling that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ members from employment discrimination. The ruling is widely considered a historic step towards equality for the LGBTQ community. She spoke at a virtual town hall on June 23rd. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Basic Rights Oregon has held weekly virtual queer town halls in an effort to build community and to share information with the LGBTQ and larger Oregon community.
The focus in the town halls is on current events and features statewide leaders and experts in a variety of fields. Previous discussions have focused on issues such as healthcare, housing, employment, and discrimination. After the discussion, panelists answer audience questions.
On Tuesday, June 23, five speakers, including Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosemblum and Unite Oregon representative Inger McDowell, discussed hate crimes and recent legislation that clarifies gender discrimination as a protected class.
“Thank you so much to BRO for hosting this event,” Rosenblum said, “This is a time for me to be listening and learning … We need to make sure that people of color and the LGBTQ community and the disabled community [are] at the table and that we are together—and that [elected officials] are the ones doing the listening.”
Since the pandemic began, many operations at BRO have changed. All workers and volunteers now work remotely, and events planned for the summer—such as BRO’s large annual fundraising event “Ignite”—are being adapted into virtual events. The weekly virtual town halls began in an effort to keep the community engaged with BRO’s work.
Over the past few months, BRO has done significant outreach to get important information to those in the LGBTQ community affected by the pandemic.
“Part of what’s happened with the pandemic is an economic disaster for many people,” said BRO Executive Director Nancy Haque. Haque emphasized that many in the LGBTQ community work in the hospitality industry and do not have a large financial cushion, and as a result are facing dire financial insecurity.
Nancy Haque, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon
“We shared info about how to apply for unemployment benefits and snap benefits,” Haque said, “We’ve also made an effort to try and respond to people’s needs and questions.”
Even though many of BRO’s events have been either canceled or adapted into virtual events because of the pandemic, Haque said that BRO has been given a lot of great support by new donors which the organization has never worked with before.
However, Haque emphasized that there’s still work to be done. “There’s a lot of things we have to do as a state and as a community to continue to help the LGBTQ community,” she said. “We would love your continued support, and your support for our virtual events.”
On top of the pandemic, BRO has also expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. “We also get to think and dream about what we can do and what we can build and how we can be part of the fight for racial justice,” Haque said, “We’ve had an organizational commitment to racial justice, but we need to keep it on the forefront of our work.”
Basic Rights Oregon will ensure that all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Oregonians experience equality by building a broad and inclusive politically powerful movement, shifting public opinion, and achieving policy victories.
Here’s a video about the organization:
About the Queer Town Hall:
In an effort to develop community and stay connected and informed during these trying times, Basic Rights Oregon has set up weekly Queer Town Hall on Tuesdays. Streaming live on YouTube, we’ll be speaking with a wide variety of experts on issues that matter most to you, including healthcare, housing, employment, discrimination, and more. It’s your chance to ask your questions and have your voice heard, so join in!
Portland, OR. The Basic Rights Oregon “Ignite” gala raised over $303,000 to support of the work of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Oregonians. The benefit at The Loft on SE 8th featured dancing at a Halloween-themed costume ball. (Photo credit, Andie Petkus)
Co-Executive Director Nancy Haque, Governor Kate Brown, former Co-Executive Director Jeana Frazzini, and Co-Director Amy Herzfeld-Copple pose for a photo
Early board Chair Frank Dixon, longtime donor Terry Bean, founding boardmember Harriet Merrick, and first Executive Director Julie Davis pose for photos prior to the dinner
Presenting Sponsor Michael Smira of Smira Group of John L. Scott Realty supporting LGBTQ equality at the Ignite dinner
Supporters Val Salorzano and Kelly Stafford enjoying the Ignite dinner and raising money for LGBTQ equality.
Basic Rights Oregon will ensure that all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Oregonians experience equality by building a broad and inclusive politically powerful movement, shifting public opinion, and achieving policy victories. Basic Rights Oregon is a member of the Equality Federation.
Basic Rights Oregon works fearlessly and tirelessly to build a strong, vibrant, powerful and progressive movement for LGBTQ equality. We understand that LGBTQ Oregonians exist in every community, and that we have to engage in strategic and values-based coalitions to address the many needs of our communities. As such, building alliances with progressive groups that advocate for working families, racial justice, immigrant rights, reproductive justice, and campaign reform will be essential to win policies that meet the varied needs of our diverse community.We recognize that within our LGBTQ communities, many of us experience both privilege and oppression on a daily basis. We know that despite leading the nation in statewide legal protections, LGBTQ Oregonians are far from full legal equality. Our vision is to be a leader in political and policy work that centers the needs of four critically important communities:
LGBTQ people of color, including LGBTQ immigrants & refugees of color, who bear the brunt of homophobia, transphobia, racism, and xenophobia.
Trans, genderqueer and gender nonconforming people, who face astonishing rates of violence and discrimination, and whose basic rights are far from secure.
LGBTQ youth, who face high rates of homelessness, bullying and suicide, and who are present and future leaders for LGBTQ equality and social justice.
LGBTQ people beyond the Portland Metro area, who are often isolated, whose needs are distinct from those in Portland, and who face unique barriers to reach the promise of true lived equality.
NONPROFIT BENEFIT TICKET GIVEAWAYS!
Sign up for our free weekly highlights for the chance to win two tickets terrific nonprofit events! If you "like" us on facebook, or sign up for our weekly news highlights, you'll be entered to win! Sign up today!
Look for another ticket giveaway soon! Are you a nonprofit looking to bolster your publicity with facebook and tweets? Email us and we'll run a contest with tickets to your event! [email protected]