Our History

| September 20, 2011

Since 1988, Oregonians have voted on five statewide and over 25 local anti-LGBT ballot measures.  Basic Rights Oregon, a 501(c)(4) organization, was formed in 1996 out of the community response to anti-gay ballot measures that plagued Oregon for more than twenty years, to sustain and strengthen Oregon’s LGBT rights movement between and beyond measure campaigns. In 1999, the Basic Rights Education Fund (BREF), a 501(c)(3) organization, was formed to supplement the electoral and legislative work of Basic Rights Oregon through education and advocacy for LGBT Oregonians.  In fulfilling its mission to build power for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Oregonians, the organization has secured historic victories.


Early efforts included the Fair Workplace Project, establishing LGBT-inclusive employment policies in hundreds of Oregon businesses, and passage of more than a dozen local non-discrimination ordinances and domestic partner registries. More recently, the organization successfully passed The Oregon Equality Act (statewide non-discrimination law) and The Oregon Family Fairness Act (comprehensive domestic partnership law) in 2007 and led a coalition of over 40 social justice organizations to pass the Oregon Safe Schools Act (anti-bullying law) in 2009. In 2012, the organization worked to make Oregon the first state to clarify that transgender-specific health insurance exclusions violate Oregon law, dramatically increasing access to trans-inclusive health care in our state.


After Oregon voters passed Measure 36 in 2004, Basic Rights Oregon began their educational campaign about why marriage matters. This strategy was later exported to other states, becoming the foundation of multi-state legislative and voter victories starting in 2011. In 2013, the organization launched Oregon United for Marriage, and also joined a federal lawsuit with ACLU of Oregon – in a parallel effort to win the freedom to marry. On May 19th, 2014, Oregon’s marriage ban was lifted by a historic ruling. In August 2014, Oregon became the third state in the nation to include coverage of medically necessary healthcare for transgender people on a state’s health plan.


Basic Rights Oregon’s intersectional approach ensures that all members of our community, especially those who are most marginalized, can change the policies that most impact their lives, so that we can all work to end homophobia, transphobia and racism.  We know that our movement for equality is bigger than one vote, broader than one issue, and stronger than the fear and intolerance that we must overcome.

Category: About Us