Task force set to wrap up charter draft review

The Keizer Charter Review Task Force is planning to finish its initial review of a revised city charter Tuesday, Feb. 4, at between 6 and 8 p.m. Among the topics to be discussed is Section 44, an addition to the charter that marginalizes members of the LGBTQ+ community, which was approved by Keizer voters in 1993. 

There is time for public testimony on any issue related to the charter during every meeting. 

Section 44 prohibits the city from extending minority status to individuals based on sexual orientation and expending funds that “promote homosexuality or express approval of homosexual behavior.”

The effort to pass the measure in Keizer was a last-ditch attempt by members of the No Special Rights Committee and Oregon Citizens Alliance to put in place such language wherever they could. After several attempts to have similar measures passed statewide, the groups targeted a more limited number of individual cities and counties where they thought the ideas might gain traction. Keizer was on the short list and didn’t disappoint the idea’s supporters when it hit the ballot box. Voters approved the measure with a 55 percent majority. 

Actions by the Oregon Legislature rendered the changes unenforceable, but it remains a blemish on the city. Other cities that adopted similar changes – Springfield, for example – found themselves losing opportunities to host events, like conventions, as a result of having the language on the books. 

In 2019, members of the city council voted to convene a task force to review the charter with one of the express purposes being to remove Section 44. Voters will still have to approve any changes at the ballot box. 

Seven other states still have “no promotion clauses” in effect. Studies in those states found: LGBTQ+ students are less accepted by their peers; there fewer positive representations are present in schools and less access to supportive learning materials; teachers were less likely to display visual support for LGBTQ+ students; and less than one percent of teachers in those states were willing to serve as advisors to groups and clubs supporting LGBTQ+ students.