We did it!

On May 13, the Oregon House passed Senate Bill 704, which will ban the use of the LGBTQ panic defense in Oregon! Then, on May 21, Governor Kate Brown signed it into law.

What does this mean for our community? 

It means sending the message that violence against LGBTQ people is never acceptable. 

It means showing up for Black, Indigenous, and Latinx transgender women who experience disproportionately high rates of violence.

And it means that, when the family of Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears, a Black trans woman who was killed last year, show up to the courthouse to pursue justice for her, the perpetrator won’t cause further pain by using the panic defense. 

We’re proud to join 13 other states, as well as Washington D.C., in passing this important legislation

And a special thanks is in order for the bill’s chief legislative sponsors who helped carry the bill to the finish line: Senator Rob Wagner, Senator Kate Lieber, Rep. Power, Rep. Rob Nosse, Rep. Marty Wilde, Rep. Sollman, Senator Prozanski, and Senator Riley.

We’re so proud to celebrate with you all as this momentous bill passes for the safety of LGBTQ Oregonians.  

Here’s to 25 more years (and beyond!) of building equality in Oregon!

Basic Rights Oregon has also collaborated with Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and legislative sponsors Rep. Karin Power, Senator Kate Lieber, and Commissioner Val Hoyle to prioritize legislation, House Bill 3041, that updates Oregon statutes to clarify existing anti-discrimination protections based on gender identity. While Oregonians have been protected from discrimination based on gender identity since 2007 when the Oregon Equality Act was passed, there is still some lingering confusion as gender identity was included under the definition of “sexual orientation.” 

This has caused some problems in implementation, especially as the public grows to have a deeper understanding that sexual orientation and gender identity are two distinct parts of an individual’s identity. For example, whether someone identifies as lesbian, gay, or straight does not necessarily have any impact on whether they identify with a particular gender. 

As Nancy Haque, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon, explains, “This bill is a simple but impactful act of clarity that’s important for supporting and protecting our LGBTQ community. Basic Rights Oregon has always fought for representation in every aspect of our lives, and with this update, it’s clear that every Oregonian, no matter who they love or how they identify, is protected from discrimination.” 

Stay up-to-date with this priority legislation and learn how you can fight for a safer, more affirming Oregon for the LGBTQ community here!