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About Just out. (Portland, OR) 1983-2013 | View Entire Issue (Nov. 1, 1987)
The other side of Washington: Lobbying
A U N IQ U E
W INTER SPECIAL
In Portland on the Sunday o f the March , Congressman Wyden
denied knowing anything about it.
e___ R_ A
L O n d O It Theatre
Wyden know about the march before reading
that Saturday’s paper — during the previous
here was one element o f the Lesbian
week he had met with constituents who were in
and Gay March on Washington whose
Washington for the march — but the people he
success we may never easily measure: impact did meet reported they received a rude reception.
Wayne Harris, a Wyden constituent, met
Excepting Rep. Bob Smith, each o f Oregon’s
with his congressman while in Washington, and
legislators was lobbied. Some of the encounters
later met with one of his assistants. Harris re
were more noteworthy than others. Sen. Bob
ports that his first meeting with Wyden was
Packwood gave lobbyists a friendly welcome,
“ brusque” and that the office staff was
discussed their concerns, but declined to again
“ rude.” After Harris informed Wyden of the
co-sponsor the national gay rights bill. “ To be
goals o f the march, and gave him written mate
honest, I can't go that far out on the limb
rial, Wyden reportedly snapped, “ Don't you
again,” he stated, although he vowed to support
know my record?”
the bill if it ever came to a vote.
Long-time activists do know Wyden’s record.
Rep. Les AuCoin is currently a co-sponsor of
When Wyden first ran for Congress in District 3
the bill in the lower house, and was seen on the
in 1980, he garnered widespread gay and les
day o f the march attending the Art/AIDS
bian support by stating his intention of co
benefit in Portland.
sponsoring the national gay rights bill. After his
Reaction from some representatives was less
election, however, Wyden told gay leaders that
candid. On that same Sunday, Rep. Ron Wy
he would not, after all, be able to support the
den, in response to a question at a public meet
ing in Portland, disavowed any knowledge of
After months of trying to arrange a meeting
the gay and lesbian march or its goals. When
with Wyden last year. Metropolitan Commun
asked by a Just Out reporter, “ What do you
ity Church Pastor Gary Wilson threatened to
think o f the lesbian and gay march on Washing
chain himself to the church if Wyden would not
ton,” W yden replied, “ I read about it in Satur
agree to meet with gay leaders. Those who
day’s paper,” and then went on to a general
attended the resulting meeting, which took a
statement supporting peoples’ exercise of ‘ ‘First
further six months to arrange, considered it the
first organized meeting with gay constituents
Such statements appear disingenuous in light
since W yden’s election six years earlier.
o f W yden’s record, according both to long-time
At the time, the meeting was considered to be
activists and to lobbyists who met with Wyden
an effort at constituency building should Wyden
in Washington before the march. Not only did
in the future attempt a run at a Senate seat.
U.S. Senate 94-2 vote
bars safe sex
purpose which explicitly affirms gay identity
and gay sexuality.
Said Helms, “ I will not consume the Sen
ate's time reading the details of this revolting
he U .S. Senate on October 14,1987 passed
project. But, Mr. President, you know those
an amendment banning the use of federal
little bags they have on airlines when it gets
funds for materials and projects in AIDS educa bumpy, if I were to read the sickening details to
tion that might “ promote or encourage, directly
you . . . you would need o n e . . . We have got to
or indirectly, homosexual sexual activity.” The
call a spade a spade and a perverted human
amendment was introduced by Sen. Jesse
being a perverted human being, not in anger,
Helms (R-NC) to the $ 126 billion Labor, Health
but in realism.” Helms blamed the spread of
and Human Services and Education bill, which
AIDS to homosexual intercourse, saying that
allocates close to $1 billion dollars for AIDS
“ [EJvery AIDS case can be traced back to a
research and education efforts in fiscal 1988.
The Helms amendment was passed over
NGLTF plans to register its condemnation
whelmingly by a 94-2 vote, with negative votes
with our friends by meeting with several
cast only by Sen. Lowell Weicker (R-CT) and
senators and staffers. In addition, the Task
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY). All
Force is actively contacting state and local
other Senate supporters of the federal gay/
groups in the state o f ail Senate supporters of the
lesbian civil rights bill voted in favor of the
federal gay rights bill to encourage that con
Helms amendment, including Sen. Edward
stituent meetings and direct action be initiated.
Kennedy (D-MA), Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI),
Some Senators are justifying their votes by
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Alan Cranston
saying that the actual impact o f this amendment
(D-CA), and Sen. Brock Adams (D-WA).
will be negligible. “ This is wrong and unac
ceptable on two counts,” said Levi. “ First, its
“ This amendment’s passage, and especially
intent and effect are homophobic, as Helms
its support by some o f our friends in the Senate,
made patently clear throughout the debate. Our
is intolerable,” said Jeffrey Levi, NGLTF Ex
friends who abandoned us on this vote would
ecutive Director. “ Three days after a March for
never have voted for a measure that was racist in
lesbian and gay rights which drew over 500,000
intent, no matter how benign its impact. Sec
lesbian and gay Americans, the Senate has
ond, this amendment could well rule out any
passed a bill that is rooted in homophobia.”
federal funds for the safer sex programs our
The bill passed after virulent floor debate led
has so successfully developed.”
by Senator Helms. Helms said he introduced
“ We hope to defeat this amendment when
the bill because he was disgusted by a comic
the House and Senate have a conference on this
book depicting safer sex practices published by
bill, but its chilling effect on the Public Health
Gay M en’s Health Crisis. While he conceded
Service bureaucracy may result in the reduction
that no federal funds had been used in producing
or elimination in funding for gay-related AIDS
the comic book. Helms noted that GMHC con
education programs,” Levi observed.
ducts educational efforts under a statement of
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Just Out • H • November. 1987