By Lori Rodriguez

I am the Communications Fellow at Basic Rights Oregon. I love my job – everyday, I get to fight for the rights of LGBTQ Oregonians with a team of incredible people. One of my best things about my job is that Basic Rights Oregon believes that all Oregonians should make a living wage, and backs it up–I make $15.45 an hour. Having this living wage has made a huge difference in my life. Before, I had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Even though I went to college, I had trouble finding a job that would pay me more than $11 an hour, and those jobs were part time. On top of that, I was also doing poorly compensated internships to build my resume. I felt like I was spending all my time working incredibly hard, and I was still below the poverty line. And with the way the rental market is in Portland right now, it’s getting harder and harder to find an affordable place to live–many rooms go for around $600 a month, which can be almost half of someone’s take home pay if they’re making $11 an hour like I was.

I knew that poverty disproportionately affects women, LGBTQ people, and people of color, and it was devastating to see myself become another statistic. No one should have to struggle as hard as I did to keep their head above water. That’s why at Basic Rights Oregon, we’re pushing to raise the statewide wage to at least $13.50 an hour. If everyone were compensated at a fair wage, workers wouldn’t have to struggle so hard, and could actually afford to live in Portland. They could take care of their basic needs and stimulate the economy with the extra money they would have to spend.

That’s why this Thursday, I am going to Salem to let our legislators know that Oregonians deserve fair wages. We’re also meeting with our legislators to present this year’s Racial Equity Report , which lets our legislators know what obstacles we still face to achieving racial equity.

Join us in Salem on Thursday, Jan. 14 to Raise the Wage. If you are not able to make it, please contact your Oregon Legislator and ask them to Raise the Wage. Click here.

Lori Rodriguez is the Communications Fellow at Basic Rights Oregon.