Voters should approve charter changes

In two weeks, Keizer voters get to decide whether the language that marginalizes LGBTQ+ residents stays or goes. 

A “yes” vote on Measure 24-453 will remove the offending language, known as Section 44, from the charter, a “no” vote will keep it as is. Section 44 was intended to prevent the city from granting any special rights members of the LGBTQ+ community. The only other significant changes to the charter are in organization of the overall document and use of less gendered language throughout. 

Keizer voters should support the charter change and they have a menu of reasons to choose from. 

Voters can support the change purely for reason of clarity and bureaucracy. Section 44 was nullified by the Oregon Legislature not long after it was approved by Keizer voters in 1993. Without a legal leg to stand on, there is no reason for it to remain in the charter. 

There are also economic reasons to change the charter. Other Oregon communities, whose voters also approved “no special rights” clauses, removed the language long ago because having it on the books began to interfere with the ability to attract tourism and business interests. At a moment in history when every citizen of the nation is being called upon to be more purposeful in their economic choices, Section 44 could rightly impair economic interest in Keizer. 

Others can support the measure because they’ve witnessed the stress already imposed on members of the LGBTQ+ community as they struggle with issues of identity. Recent years have seen tremendous gains made in terms of rights for all LGBTQ+ Americans, but those of us with close ties to members of the community know it has not always been this way and Keizer will be better without this particular relic of the past. 

Finally, voters should approve the changes to the charter because words matter and harm is harm, regardless of whether it is in the foreground or the background. Studies in states with enforceable “no special rights” clauses have proven that LGBTQ+ youth were more likely to be harassed and less likely to find positive reflections of themselves in their immediate communities. Changing the charter reduces those risks on a fundamental level and it’s easy one to fix. 

Join us in supporting the charter changes and vote “yes” on Keizer Measure 24-453.