Black, lesbian, brain cancer: the perfect victim | Lon Mabon, Measure 9, and the war on homosexuality |
battle of the bleeding hearts: Katz vs. Blumenauer
Drunk, suicidal and running from police officers, burglary suspect Brian French breaks into a Laurelhurst house and holds 12-year-old Nathan Thomas hostage at knifepoint. After a tense standoff, police officers panic and open fire on French, killing him. Thomas is also hit; he dies later that night.
As the political season gets under way, Democrats do what they do best--beat up on each other. Les AuCoin and high-tech entrepreneur Harry Lonsdale trade insults as they vie for the Democratic nomination to face Bob Packwood in the U.S. Senate race.
On the eve of the presidential election, Portland lawyer John Frohnmayer, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, blasts the Bush-Quayle ticket as "anti-art, anti-intellectual and anti-democracy." Frohnmayer, whose tenure was scarred by scalding right-wing criticism over NEA grants, says he'll vote for Clinton, despite his strong Republican ties.
Desperate to save herself and her children from her husband's beatings, Laotian immigrant Seng Chao Saechao poisons them with insecticide--then drinks some herself. She survives, but two of her kids don't. Saechao is sentenced to three years in prison. Her husband is convicted of assault.
Portland author Mary Ann Humphrey hits the talk-show circuit when President-elect Bill Clinton says he'll lift the ban against gays in the military. The former Army reserve officer had to resign after superiors learned she was a lesbian, and later wrote an award-winning book about being pink in green.
The 24-hour Church of Elvis shuts down after owner and sometime lawyer Stephanie Pierce defaults on a student loan. To raise cash, Pierce decides to imitate Biosphere II and lives in her own storefront fishbowl.
Quarterflash releases its fourth album, Girl in the Wind. Despite heavy local airplay and enthusiastic response from Portland fans, Sony/Epic won't release it in the United States.
Portland's first Smart Bar opens. Says owner Chris Iverson: "I think this is a really evolutionary concept. It's going to replace the coffeehouses."
Fiery evangelist Billy Graham brings his crusade to the Civic Stadium for a five-day run. On his final night, 41,500 people pack the stands to hear the 73-year-old preacher--a stadium record. The crusade's five-day attendance total is an awe-inspiring 290,000 souls.
Portland loses another dining institution when Quality Pie, a 24-hour haven for hipsters, scenesters, scamsters, hamsters, rock stars (pre- and post-nova), street people, alcoholics in various stages of recovery, poets, gamers, insomniacs and other assorted creatures of the night, serves its final cup of joe.
Sen. Bob Packwood beats back a
THE PERFECT VICTIM
BY CARYN B. BROOKS
HOMOPHOBIA HITS HOME
BY PATTY WENTZ
In 1992, some 140,000 Oregonians signed that measure and brought to the ballot the ugliest proposal this state has ever seen. Forget equal rights--this measure would have nailed discrimination deep into the state constitution.
The bill was sponsored by the right-wing Oregon Citizens Alliance, which preached fear and bigotry cloaked in the shroud of biblical rhetoric.
The OCA was originally formed to promote conservative preacher Joe Lutz's 1986 primary challenge to Sen. Bob Packwood. Then, under the leadership of a born-again Christian Vietnam vet and ex-hippie named Lon Mabon, the OCA got its first taste of victory: In 1988 it gathered enough signatures to overturn an executive order by Gov. Neil Goldschmidt banning discrimination against gays and lesbians. In 1990 Mabon struck again, pushing a forefather of Measure 9 through the Springfield City Council as a city ordinance, and by 1992, OCA hardliners threatened to wrest control of the state Republican Party from the moderate Dorchester patricians who had dominated it for decades.
With Measure 9, the OCA forced its agenda onto the TV screens and into the living rooms of every home in Oregon, sparking what was probably the most divisive campaign the state has ever seen. "Death threats were as common as gumballs," says Marcie Westerling of the Rural Organizing Project, a human-justice group in Scappoose. "We were all living under an incredible sense of fear."
Measure 9 forced the personal into the political. Coming out is never easy. Coming out under siege is extraordinary. People who never thought their love life was anyone's business talked about their sexuality with their families, co-workers and neighbors and formed groups such as Basic Rights Oregon and Campaign for a Hate Free Oregon.
But perhaps the most remarkable part of the campaign was the way straight liberals rallied around the besieged gay and lesbian community. City councils, chambers of commerce, unions, church groups, newspapers, and politicians of all stripes decried the measure. Money to defeat the measure poured in from around the country.
Indeed, the OCA was so reviled that that Oregon Council of Architects and the Oregon Cycling Association changed their names to avoid having the same abbreviation.
In the end, the measure was defeated, but gays and lesbians in the state were forced to deal with an ugly reality: 44 percent of Oregon voters voted yes.
The scars have not healed. Long-time politico Kathleen Sadaat still chokes up when she talks about Measure 9. "It was not an easy time," she says. "You've been living in a community for years--you go to the grocery store and wonder if the person behind the counter voted against you."
Mabon wasn't finished. In 1993, the OCA passed "Baby 9s" in 26 cities and counties, which were later invalidated by the state Legislature. And in 1994, Mabon hit the state again with Measure 13, a less inflammatory version. It lost, 52 to 48 percent.
After that, the tide turned against Mabon and his measures, thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against a Colorado initiative similar to Measure 9.
Today Lon Mabon limps along. His former allies in the right-wing Christian contingent of the Republican Party have deserted him, offended by his megalomania and belief that he sits at the right hand of the Lord. He failed to qualify an initiative for the ballot in 1998. He is out of money and living in the OCA headquarters in Woodburn.
Still, he casts a long shadow. Last session, the state Legislature, which now has key members who once pledged allegiance to the OCA, attempted to pass a measure prohibiting homosexuals from ever having the right to marry.
Mabon's legacy is not all negative. He galvanized the state's gays and lesbians into a potent political force. "I can't tell you how many meetings I've been to where people start with a tribute to Lon Mabon," says Westerling. "They say thank God he liberated us. Thank God he forced our hand."
BATTLE OF THE BLEEDING HEARTS
BY JOHN SCHRAG
Earl Blumenauer, a lifelong Portlander, left Salem to serve on the county board before jumping to the City Council in 1986, developing expertise in everything from the city's sewers and 911 system to tax-increment financing and regional rail.
Vera Katz, a New York native, hunkered down in the Legislature and in 1985 became the first woman to serve as Oregon's Speaker of the House. She became the only legislator in history to hold that post for three terms.
He was a brainy, but at times tactless, policy craftsman. She was a charming, but often crafty, political tactician.
During the summer of '92, political strategist Julie Williamson tried to reinvent Blumenauer as a sensitive New Age guy, organizing his campaign around public deeds, such as pounding nails at House of Umoja. Katz aide Sam Adams, meanwhile, pitched his candidate as a political outsider who wanted to "open up" City Hall. Blumenauer proposed specific policies. Katz talked about vision.
In the end, voters decided they wanted a leader, not a city manager, and on Nov. 3, Katz was elected with 57 percent of the vote.Neither the candidates nor voters could have known the political earthquake that would soon hit Oregon. In 1995, Bob Packwood would be hounded out of the U.S. Senate, and Portland Democrat Ron Wyden would vacate his House seat to replace him, prompting Blumenauer to head east. As a result, the man who probably knows the most about how Portland works is setting national policies 3,000 miles away, while the woman who campaigned as an outsider is positioning herself to become the first three-term mayor in more than 25 years.