Just out. (Portland, OR) 1983-2013, November 07, 2003, Page 26, Image 26

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he history of Oregon Citizens
Alliance begins with a seemingly
harmless primary race in 1986.
The Republican primary for U.S.
Senate pitted incumbent Boh
Packwood against the virtually unknown Joe
Lutz. Packwood was well respected and popu­
lar, so it seemed almost foolish for anyone to
challenge him. But Packwood was soft on
abortion, which left him vulnerable for an
attack from conservative Republicans—and
Lutz was the epitome of conservative.
Lutz was also a Baptist minister who
preached political involvement. A race against
Packwocxl was the perfect opportunity to put
his words into practice. No one was surprised
when he lost, hut everyone was surprised by his
numbers. Lutz had captured 40 percent of the
vote, and his campaign inspired religious con­
servatives to be more active in politics.
After the election, Lutz and several follow­
ers, including T.J. Bailey and Lon Mahon, dis­
covered a niche for conservative views but no
local or statewide organization to voice them.
So they formed an organization called the
Oregon Citizens Alliance in 1987, and
Mabon quickly emerged as its leader.
At first, the OCA tried to influence which
bills would pass or fail in the state Legislature.
Then it rated lawmakers on how they voted
on conservative issues. Vera Katz, who was
speaker of the House at that time, received
one of the lowest scores, which was just fine
with her. Right away, the OCA had its critics,
but that didn’t discourage Mabon.
In 1988, the OCA backed at least 10 leg­
islative candidates and three initiatives. Of
these activities, one stood out as proof that
the OCA was not to be taken lightly—Mea­
sure 8. It repealed Gov. Neil Goldschmidt«
executive order banning discrimination by
state agencies against homosexuals. '
Goldschmidt’s executive order was a mile­
stone in the history of gay rights in Oregon.
Attempts to add sexual orientation to Ore­
gon’s anti-discrimination law had failed since
the first gay rights bill was introduced in 1973.
When the 1987 Legislature again failed to
pass a gay rights bill, Goldschmidt took anoth­
er route and issued an executive order.
Gay rights activists were thrilled, but religious
conservatives were angry and wanted to undo
the executive order as quickly as possible. By
now, Bailey was chairman of the state Republi­
can Party. He believed only the Legislature or
voters should decide issues relating to homosexu­
ality. Still, it was a bit risky for the GOP to spon­
sor an initiative to repeal the executive order.
Such an effort might deepen the rift between
moderate and conservative Republicans. Instead,
Mabon and the OCA took up the task.
OCA p la y -b y -p la y
Through the years J u s t O ut has devoted
am ple ink to Lon M abon & Co.
Here's a look back at the roots
o f O regon's most notorious hate group.
by Pat Young
W hen Measure 8
passed and the executive
order was repealed, gay
activists were shocked. But
the O C A was inspired by
its success and became even
more involved in politics.
In 1990, it sponsored third-
party candidate AI Mobley
for governor and backed an
anti-abortion ballot measure.
Both failed, but the OCA had
become a well-established
grassroots organization with
members in almost all of Ore­
gon’s counties. And it had found
the perfect topic to rally against:
In 1992, the OCA sponsored
Ballot Measure 9. It would have
amended the state’s constitution to
lump homosexuality with pedophilia,
sadism and masochism as being
abnormal and perverse behavior. Fur­
ther, Measure 9 would have forbid
local government from promoting or
encouraging such abnormal behaviors
and would require schools to set a stan­
dard that homosexuality was abnormal.
While working on Measure 9, the
OCA also sponsored local initiatives in
Corvallis and Springfield. It wanted to
stop those cities from protecting homosexuals
against discrimination through civil rights
ordinances. The effort failed in Corvallis but
passed in Springfield. The Springfield vote
gave the OCA confidence that the statewide
Measure 9 would pass.
In the midst of the Measure 9 campaign,
the OCA was slapped with a lawsuit. Photog­
rapher Catherine Stauffer had been learning
as much as she could about the OCA and in
the process was on friendly terms with a few
members. So it didn’t seem out of the ordinary
for her to receive an invitation to one of their
events at Portland’s Foursquare Church. How­
ever, when she showed up, OCA communica­
tions director Scott Lively grabbed her by the
arm and pushed her to
leave. Then he threw her on the fltx)r and
dragged her out of the building. Stauffer
reported the incident to the police and even­
tually sued the OCA. The court awarded her
about $30,000, but she received very little of
the money.
Meanwhile, the campaigning continued
until voters rejected Measure 9. In its wake, the
gay community was emotionally, financially
and physically drained. However, it left the
OCA optimistic, since 43 percent of the voters
were in favor of the measure. Mabon also
looked elsewhere for inspiration, because while
Oregonians were rejecting Measure 9, Colorado
voters were passing Amendment 2, which was
similarly worded but didn’t have the inflamma­
tory language declaring homosexuals abnormal.
Within 24 hours of Measure 9’s failure,
Mabon announced he would return in 1994
with a toned-down anti-gay initiative. To pre­
pare for the campaign, the OCA pushed
“Son of 9’’ anti-gay initiatives in small cities
and rural counties around the state; 26 of
them passed. Fortunately, the Oregon Legisla­
ture passed House Bill 3500, which stopped
the measures from taking effect. The new law
irritated the OCA and so did some city offi­
cials who had opposed a “Son of 9” measure.
When two Canby City Council members
voted against the OCA, the organization
sponsored a recall election and got them
kicked out of office.
In 1994, Oregon voters once again said
“no” to the OCA and did not pass Ballot
Measure 13. By now, many people thought
the OCA was just using the issue of homo­
sexuality to keep itself financially afloat.
People wrote letters to newspapers com­
menting that Mabon should get a real
job. But he filed yet another anti-gay
statewide initiative for the 1996 ballot.
However, when the U.S. Supreme
Court struck down Colorado’s Amend­
ment 2 as unconstitutional, he
scrapped the attempt.
W ith his organization on the brink
of failure and the Stauffer settle­
ment hanging over his head,
Mabon actually managed to put an
anti-gay initiative on the 2000
ballot. Coincidentally, it was
called Measure 9. It sought to
prohibit schools from promoting
or sanctioning homosexuality
or bisexuality. By restricting
the measure to schools, the
O C A got around the U.S.
Supreme C ourt’s ruling on
Amendment 2. This also failed.
In 2002, gays and lesbians saw a picture of
Mabon they thought they would never see:
Mabon in handcuffs on his way to jail. Stauf­
fer’s suit finally caught up with him. Not only
had he ignored the court settlement, but
Mabon claimed Oregon’s judges were frauds
because the words “and impartially” were not
in their oath of office. When he refused to
participate in hearings about the suit, the
judge threw him in jail for several days.
Mahon's wife, Bonnie, said that the OCA
didn’t have the money to pay Stauffer and
that its failure to pay her had nothing to do
with her sexuality.
Today, Mabon continues to file anti-gay
initiatives. He’s in the signature-gathering
phase to place an initiative on the 2004 bal­
lot. Meanwhile, Stauffer waits for the rest of
her money. JD
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