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Oregon’s Anti-Gay Law Unconstitutional, Appeals Court Rules

November 13, 1992

SALEM, Ore. (AP) _ An anti-homosexual measure placed on the ballot by Oregon citizens and passed four years ago is unconstitutional, an appeals court ruled Thursday.

The initiative, known as Measure 8, repealed an executive order by former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt protecting state workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The measure, placed on the ballot through citizen petitions, violated rights of free expression, a three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled.

The Oregon Constitution protects ″free and open expression about sexual orientation,″ the court said in an opinion written by Judge John Buttler.

The office of state Attorney General Charles Crookham is considering whether to appeal.

The 1988 measure was sponsored by the Oregon Citizens Alliance, the group that sponsored an anti-homosexual measure on this month’s ballot. The measure, rejected by voters, would have amended the state constitution to declare homosexuality abnormal and perverse.

Phillip Ramsdell, a director of the group, said the ruling underscores the need for an amendment to declare homosexuality abnormal.

″If this had happened before the election, I think we would have come very close to passing Measure 9,″ he said.

″It’s more important than ever for us to refile Measure 9 to reinforce the will of the people,″ he said.

The appeals court ruling frees state agencies to adopt rules against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The court upheld such rules adopted by the state Board of Higher Education.

The lawsuit challenging Measure 8 was brought on behalf of Harriet Merrick of Eugene, a lesbian and homosexual rights advocate who works in the higher education financial aid office.

Measure 8 said state officials could not ″forbid the taking of any personnel action against any state employee based on the sexual orientation of such employee.″

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