The print. (Oregon City, Oregon) 1977-1989, April 27, 1983, Page 2, Image 2

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Idle Hands
J. Dana Haynes
Editor In Chief
Earlier this month, • the Oregon Senate
debated and voted upon a very important bill, it
was one which should never have been needed
and one which was victorious despite beino
It was Senate bill 319, the controversial aav
rights bill.
I say that such a bill should never exist
because in theory the Constitutions of Oregon
and the United States provide equality to all peo­
ple. Of course, we know that’s not the way it
works in real life. The gay rights bill, like the once
and future Equal Rights Amendment, is designed
to fill in and smooth out the pot holes in the Bill of
And I say SB319 was victorious despite its
defeat because it actually made it out of commit­
tee and onto the floor for a vote.
No other gay rights bill in Oregon has come
on so strong and the thanks should go to Senate
Majority Leader Jan Wyers, D-Portland.
The purpose of SB319 is simple, and I was
lucky enough to talk to Wyers last weekend at
Portland Community College’s Sylvania campus.
In the current constitution of this state, it is illegal
to discriminate against anyone on the basis of
race, age, religion or country of birth. SB319
would have listed “sexual orientation” to that list,
thus protecting the rights of yet another minority
(the kind of futuristic legislation for which Oregon
is famous).
However, the bill would not have created any
special rights for gays. There was no Affirmative
Action or employment quotias, Wyers said. “Right
now, if a gay wants to check into a hotel and they
say ‘No, we don’t take queers here,’ there’s
nothing that person can do,” Wyers explained.
He also pointed out that a gay might be able
to sue under existing case law and win, but then
again maybe not. No constitutional umbrella ex­
ists in this area.
This was a very tame bill, all things con­
sidered. It did not actively endorse a homosexual
lifestyle, nor did it force any viewpoint on anyone.
Despite all that, the members of the Senate each
received letters from someone calling him/herself
“god.” These letters graded each senator, giving
those who voted aye on SB319 an “F.” The letter
also included “a veiled death threat.” Wyers said.
Land of the free, etc.
SB319 failed by a vote of 13 to 17 which, when
one takes the content of the bill into considera­
tion, is a very strong showing.
Once again, Wyers helped get the bill as far
as it did by rushing it through the Senate at a mad­
cap pace. Wyers originated the bill in the interim
judiciary committee, of which he is the chairper­
son. The bill was rushed through that committee,
taken to public hearing that was held at night (and
at which no official action was scheduled to take
place, thus keeping away most of the press).
I suppose no one really expected the bill to
make it all the way through, even with a savvy and
high-powered senator running interference for it.
Oregon is, after all, a fairly conservative place.
Still, SB319 came on strong and did better than
was anticipated, proving that there are elements
of justice in the Senate.
A statewide gay rights bill is inevitable, as is
an Equal Rights Amendment. It is only a matter of
time before the people of Oregon put away their
silly prejudices and realize the Constitution works
equally for everyone or not at all for anyone.
Then, the Oregon Legislature will once again
lead the nation, as it so often has In the past.
Atiyeh’s death penalty bill
wrong answer for issue
Shelley Ball
Copy Editor
Question: What bill has appeared time after
time in Oregon’s legislature, been adopted and
later declared unconstitutional, and was recently
introduced to the 1983 legislature?
Answer: Thanks to Gov. Vic Atiyeh, the
issue of reinstating Oregon’s death penalty has
surfaced once more in the state’s capitol.
On April 18 Atiyeh started the ball rolling by
presenting his revised bill to the House Judiciary
Committee. Should it become law, Oregon’s
death penalty would be lethal injection for those
convicted of aggravated murder.
However, Atiyeh’s proposal also states that
a separate hearing following a conviction would
decide if the death penalty should be employed
and, if it is not, the alternative would be life im­
Atiyeh is supporting the reinstatement of
the death penalty because he thinks it will be a
deterrent to premeditated murder. He is not
alone in his support of it, either. In a recent poll
conducted by a local teleyision news station,
over 70 percent of the people who participated
in the poll were in favor of bringing back the
death penalty.
Although the death penalty appears to be
an effective way to deal with major murder
cases, I am not altogether sure that it is an ap­
propriate means of punishment.
Atiyeh’s belief that potential murderers will
think twice before killing may be true for some.
The up-and-coming Charles' Mansons of our
society, however, are probably not going to give
the death penalty much thought, considering
how demented their minds must already be.
How is it possible to expect a psychotic to control
himself by thinking rationally?
It appears that death is really nothing more
than an easy way out for the murderer when it
comes to facing his punishment. Yet it’s so easy
to approve of the death of the murderer as com­
pensation for the death of the victim. How many
have watched those classic Charles Bronson
movies, where he seeks revenge for the brutal
murder of his wife and rape of his daughter by
taking on and shooting every malicious culprit he
encounters, and have, like myself, cheered him
on in the process?
When it comes to seriously harming our lov­
ed ones, it appears to be human instinct to want
to harm whoever is responsible in the same way.
But when it comes to murder, once the killer has
been executed he is no longer being punished,
because he can no longer feel anything. Death
becomes an easy way out for the murderer, as
he no longer experiences waking up in a jail cell,
facing the day-to-day reminder as to why he is
But since our current laws seem to protect
the rights of the criminals more than the rights of
the victims, sending a convicted murderer to jail
right now doesn’t provide adequate punishment.
Many people may support the death penalty
because they have no other choice in selecting a
sufficient form of retribution.
Instead of reinstating the death penalty,
why not make life inside our prisons tougher
than it is now? Why not cut down on the amount
of activities available to the hardened murderers-
-after all, they were placed in prison as a form of
punishment, not so they could sit and watch
television with their cell mates.
If prison life became more of a formidable
affair to murderers rather than a temporary
holding tank until they go up for parole, the
citizens on the outside would not have to be forc­
ed to choose the death penalty as the only
means to uphold justice.
THE PRINT, a member of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers
Association, alms to be a fair and Impartial journalistic medium
covering the campus community as thoroughly as possible. Opi­
nions expressed in THE PRINT do not necessarily reflect those of
the College administration, faculty, Associated Student Govern­
ment or other members of THE PRINT. Clackamas Community
College, 19600 S. Molalla Avenue, Oregon City, OR 97045.
Page 2
Clackamas Community College