Unless you live on the West Coast, Basic Rights Oregon may be an unfamiliar name to you. However, those paying attention to the national marriage debate and the ramifications of that debate on religious freedom have certainly heard of this group’s efforts in recent days.
Last week, The Daily Signal released a series of communications between Basic Rights Oregon and employees of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) pertaining to the proceedings against the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, Melissa and Aaron Klein, who have effectively lost their business and are facing a $135,000 fine stemming from their decision not to participate in a same-sex wedding.
The new information coming from these communications are troubling. In addition to showing donations made by Basic Rights Oregon to BOLI Commissioner Brad Avakian’s campaign, FOIA requests also provided a trail of correspondence that appears to show BOLI communications staff keeping members of the advocacy group in the loop as the case proceeded.
Certainly an agenda driven advocacy group with such close ties to a rogue bureaucracy is concerning, but Basic Rights Oregon is the perfect example of how the left organizes to push a social agenda under the guise of humanitarianism that obfuscates the real political efforts beneath the surface. In 2010, Politifact.org called out the organization for misrepresentations when a fundraising email claimed that Oregon Republican Senators were advocating for “violence against gays.” Furthermore, in 2014, a gay Republican pointed out the partisan practice of endorsing only Democrats by the Basic Rights Oregon Equality PAC writing, “do not pretend to be a single-issue organization when you clearly aren’t.”
2nd Vote’s research into Basic Rights Oregon has shown that it is involved with many issues beyond same sex marriage. They push a radical agenda to “educate” the public consciousness that transgenderism is ‘normal’, while the traditional nuclear family is not. Basic Rights Oregon has also lobbied for a $15 minimum wage and has organized electioneering efforts to support a ballot measure that would have allowed illegal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.
The fact that this left-wing activity is paid for by many of the corporations that conservatives do business with every day is even more disconcerting. The annual reports published by Basic Rights Oregon show contributions from big-name companies such as Nike, Comcast, Nordstrom, Boeing, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. Not surprisingly, funding this type of advocacy and activity puts these corporations in league another liberal heavyweight, the Human Rights Campaign, which is also a major contributor.
As it relates to Sweet Cakes and their ongoing persecution by the radical left, the 2014 annual report from Basic Rights Oregon reveals an interesting connection and a familiar name to those who have been paying attention. Listed as a $1,000 – $2,499 Freedom Circle donor is the activist that led the campaign to take down the Sweet Cakes GoFundMe account and just so happens to be the owner of Sweet Cakes competitor Cupcake Jones – Lisa Watson. Other emails released in the motion filed by the Kleins show Basic Rights Oregon considered Cupcake Jones as a potential location for a media event in support of federal legislation that included reductions in protections for hiring practices by religious institutions.
Unwrapping the activities conducted by Basic Rights Oregon is a critical exercise because it shows that the marriage issue is not isolated. Liberal advocates for same sex marriage push a wider scope of the liberal agenda as a matter of politics, including, as we see here, minimum wage hikes and drivers licenses for illegal immigrants and ongoing attacks on the free practice of religion.
The companies that sponsor Basic Rights Oregon ought to rethink their corporate backing of such a far-left organization. To help them, conservatives ought to take the time and let those companies know what they think about them funding groups like this which are working in collusion with government agencies to actively attack causes and issues that conservatives believe in.
Chris Walker is the Executive Director of 2nd Vote, a conservative shopper app. To find out more, download the free app or visit 2ndVote.com.