Bill Dickey is a long-time supporter of Basic Rights Oregon and other progressive causes in Oregon. He is the co-owner of Morel Ink, which he founded as BDC Printing Solutions in 1996, the same year Basic Rights Oregon was formed. We are proud to share his 20/20 story.
In October of 1992 I was 36 years old, unemployed and volunteering for the No on 9 campaign, which was fighting the odious, anti-LGBTQ Measure 9 in Oregon. I returned to my hometown in Medford, Ore., to distribute yard signs.
The campaign gave me a list and some 250 Correx lavender No on 9 signs. My 10-year-old nephew and I loaded them into my mom’s car and started driving from house to house, planting signs around Jackson County.
We had a stapler and sledge hammer and it took us all day to get these signs planted. Our supporters were spread out.
The next morning, I woke up and I noticed the sign on my parents’ lawn was gone. I went to another house on our list. Theirs was gone, too. I hopped in my car and went back to all 250 homes. Every yard sign had been removed.
The climate in 1992 was so hostile that our opposition had no reservations about stealing every one of our signs.
One of our biggest champions in those days was lawyer Bill Duhaime. He was so ticked off that someone took his sign that he put another one on a broom stick and hung it off the top of an 8-foot step ladder in the middle of his pool. He had one of those pools in the front yard with a fence around it. That sign lasted until Election Day.
Ballot Measure 9 was part of the Oregon Citizens Alliance’s campaign against LGBTQ Oregonians. It would have added hateful, anti-LGBTQ language into the Oregon Constitution. Fortunately, it was defeated in the November 3, 1992 general election with 638,527 votes in favor, 828,290 votes against.
Today, life in Jackson County is not like it was in 1992. We’ve made incredible progress in winning hearts and minds. That said, I have come to accept that it will be a long time before our opposition gives up. Just look at what’s happening in places like North Carolina.
It reminds me of the experiences of African Americans in our country. Their fight for justice was not over when the Civil Rights Act was passed. It continues to this day.
My hope is that someday we will be homogenized—that we’ll seem totally normal. But it’s clear we have a long way to go.