Chuck Carpenter Defeated in Oregon

Narrow Loss A Warning Sign to Gay Community, Log Cabin Says

May 28, 1998 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – After a cliffhanger finish that was not decided for over a week, final results from the Oregon Republican primary in a suburban Portland state representative district shows Rep. Chuck Carpenter was defeated by his anti-gay, far right challenger, Bill Witt, by 54 votes out of more than 6,000.

Carpenter was the first openly-gay Republican to run for an office and win in the nation's history in 1994. Witt is a two-time Congressional candidate and ran as the favorite of anti-gay activists.

"This is a wake up call for the whole gay and lesbian community across the country, despite their political affiliations," said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "Log Cabin is fighting on the front lines against the religious right, and we need the gay community to recognize the crucial importance of that fight. The gay community cannot let one more gay Republican be outspent by the far right ever again. You have to support the troops at the front. Every time Log Cabin loses a fight on the front lines, the whole gay community suffers."

Tafel commended Carpenter for his leadership as a state representative, particularly his leadership in pushing the Oregon Employment Non-Discrimination Act through the House by shutting down the chamber for three days in 1997. Oregon ENDA failed to be enacted into law by only one vote in the state Senate. No such legislation had ever moved so far in Oregon history.

Tafel also praised the strong support from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund for Carpenter's re-election. "The Victory Fund was totally committed to Chuck, and they set an example for every other non-partisan gay organization to follow. They recognized the crucial importance of this race, and we were proud to be partners with them in this effort," Tafel said.

"Log Cabin Republicans will fight on," Tafel said. "The war against the far right within the Republican Party is central to our mission, and we hope every gay and lesbian American recognizes the vital importance of this fight."