Over 2/3 of Oregonians
believe that same-sex couples
should have their relationships
legally recognized by the state.
Annabelle Jaramillo Benton County Commissioner
Growing up as a Latina in Colorado, Annabelle
Jaramillo experienced the fight
against discrimination first-hand. "My first
civil rights experience was
when I was enrolled in a school
that had separated Latino kids
from Anglo kids," she says. "My
mother insisted on integration,
and we integrated our school." She
continued this fight once she
reached Oregon, becoming the
president of National Image, Inc.,
a Hispanic civil rights organization.
a Benton county commissioner
in 2004, Annabelle again found
herself in the front lines
of a civil rights struggle--this
time for LGBTQ rights. It
was then that the Benton County Commission decided to stop issuing all marriage
and gay--in response to a demand by Attorney General Hardy Myers that they
not issue licenses to same-sex couples.
it was a matter of principle.
"If we were going to end up
with discrimination, we weren't
going to issue marriage licenses
to anyone," Annabelle says.
Benton County then became the
subject of national and international
media attention, and "there
was the potential for a backlash,"
she says. But a backlash never
materialized, and Annabelle
credits the people of Benton
County for their openness. "I
have a lot of support from
the community," she says. “People
here are very accepting."
experience fighting for gay rights
in Oregon goes back to 1991 in Corvallis,
where she managed a successful campaign
to defeat a discriminatory charter
amendment promoted by the Oregon
Citizens Alliance. "I think
everybody deserves equality," she
says. "Having fought
for civil rights for a long time,
I know you can't leave anybody