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Report: Measure 89 on Nov. 4 ballot 'unnecessary'

The City Club of Portland will consider a recommendation to oppose Measure 89, which would write an Equal Rights Amendment for women into the Oregon Constitution.

A report released Tuesday by a City Club panel concludes that the amendment would add nothing substantive to rights in Oregon and would not advance the cause of a similar change to the U.S. Constitution.

“The Oregon Constitution is a foundational document that is too often burdened with unnecessary or ad hoc amendments,” the panel’s report says. “It is up to the proponents of the measure to show why their amendment would be necessary or beneficial, and they have failed to do so.”

Measure 89 qualified by initiative petition and will be on the Nov. 4 statewide ballot.

Advocates countered Tuesday with endorsements from Dave Frohnmayer, former attorney general and University of Oregon president, and four former Oregon Supreme Court justices.

The City Club of Portland is Oregon’s most prestigious civic forum.

City Club members have until Aug. 25 to decide endorsements on 10 election-related issues, including five of the seven statewide ballot measures.

Advocates of Measure 89 argue that a specific guarantee against discrimination based on gender should be written into the Oregon Constitution, and it should not rely on a 1982 interpretation by the Oregon Supreme Court.

Voters rejected a different ballot measure for individual rights in 1994.

“Voters should amend our state’s fundamental legal document only when there is a need for a substantive change to the law, not for symbolic value,” says Des Culpitt, who leads the panel.

But Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, who leads the Vote ERA committee, says the long list of endorsers should tell voters something about the importance of the measure.

"This is a day women and girls around Oregon can be incredibly proud," DiLorenzo says.

Frohnmayer was a Republican state representative from Eugene from 1975 to 1981, and attorney general from 1981 until 1992. He was president of the University of Oregon from 1994 until his retirement in 2009.

He is the only Republican so far on a long list of endorsers, including Gov. John Kitzhaber, Oregon's two U.S. senators and four of the five U.S. representatives, the Democratic leaders of the Oregon Legislature and several legislators and unions.

The former justices who endorsed it are Paul De Muniz, Michael Gillette, William Riggs and George Van Hoomissen.

Others on the City Club panel are Kezia Wanner, vice chairwoman; Alex Roth, lead writer; Danish Aziz, Sharon Greenfield and Jack MacNichol. Byron Palmer was its research adviser.

Tamara Lise DeRidder filed a minority report that recommends an endorsement of Measure 89. She says passage would safeguard women’s rights against changing interpretations by the courts and offer protection for reproductive rights.

All 10 election-related matters that the City Club of Portland will consider endorsements on will be presented at a forum from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, at the Oregon Public House, 700 NE Dekum St., Portland. The public is invited, but only City Club members may vote on endorsements.

The endorsements will be made public Aug. 26.

Here is a link to the City Club of Portland report on Measure 89:


The City Club of Portland also is releasing a report on a proposed ballot measure that would have barred public funds for abortions. No signatures were submitted, and the measure did not qualify for the ballot. But club officials decided to release the report, given that the issue could resurface in the Oregon Legislature or during a future election cycle.

For a link to that report, click here:


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Adds rebuttal comment, partial list of endorsers from advocates of Measure 89.

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