Become an RIC congregation!

Is your congregation an RIC congregation?

Since its beginning in 1984, the Reconciling in Christ (RIC) program of ReconcilingWorks has identified congregations, synods, and other Lutheran organizations as safe, welcoming communities of faith for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Currently, ReconcilingWorks has recognized over 690 communities as publicly and intentionally welcoming, including, and celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and their families. Supporters of LGBTQIA+ people and families are not the minority in our Lutheran church, they are a growing majority.

ReconcilingWorks NW supports ELCA Lutheran communities in Oregon and SW Washington that publicly welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer believers. They work for policies to include all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Check out their website to learn more about congregational accompaniment and trainings.

The Oregon Synod celebrates being an RIC synod since 2005!
Notable LGBTQ Spiritual Leaders
Kathy Lee Bates was a professor, scholar, poet, social reformer, head of the English Department at Wellesley College, activist for the rights of women, workers, and immigrants, and a lesbian. Bates lived with her partner and “joy of life,” Katharine Coman, a fellow professor, for 25 years. Inspired by a visit to Pike's Peak, Bates wrote the poem "America the Beautiful." First published on July 4, 1895, the words are a love poem to the ideals America is built on, and an indictment of America’s failure to meet those ideals. It was put to music to become the song we all know today. Sing it with PRIDE!
Bayard Rustin was an American leader in socialism, nonviolence, gay rights, and civil rights, best known for his work as adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950s and '60s. He taught King about Gandhi's philosophy of non-violent resistance and advised him on the tactics of civil disobedience. Rustin was a key figure in the organization of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, at which King delivered his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech. Rustin continued to fight for equality despite being arrested several times, both for civil disobedience and his open homosexuality.
Paul Murray was the first Black American woman to receive a Doctor of Law degree from Yale.  She was active in the Civil Rights and Women's Movements, and in 1977, at the age of 67, she became the first female African American Episcopal priest. Yet at every turn society worked to hold her back because of her race and gender. Within the Civil Rights movement, she was disheartened by the sidelining of women, particularly upsetting as she felt herself to be a man. (Pauli dated women, but considered herself a heterosexual man, not a lesbian. If she were alive today, she would likely identify as transgender.) Within the women’s movement, she was disheartened by the sidelining of minority, poor, and gay voices. Throughout her life, Pauli used her voice to call for intersectional justice (long before the term was coined). In 2012, the Episcopal Church declared her a saint.
In Oregon History

Before colonizers formed the Oregon Territory, Native LGBTQ people were already living in Oregon.

1806: Lewis and Clark, seeking the mouth of the Willamette River, were directed by local Indians to a place where “two young men” lived together, having left the tribe to set up a home.

1811: report was published about a woman in the Kutenai tribe who dressed like a man and had a “wife.”

1853: Oregon Territorial Legislature passed laws criminalizing sodomy with one to five years imprisonment. 

The Dalles was home to one of Oregon’s first gay activists, Marie Equi. After receiving her medical degree in 1903, Equi was involved with activism in opposition to WWI and women’s fight to gain the vote in Oregon. Forthright about her sexuality, Equi lived with her female partner in Portland, and together they raised a daughter. Equi’s activism was a bold stance against the social and political climate of the time. Contributing not only to civil rights activism, Equi also helped shape women’s progression in medicine, reproductive rights, and suffrage.

1912: the Portland Vice Scandal, dozens of men and youths were arrested for crimes ranging from (so-called) indecent acts to sodomy. Most found their charges dismissed due to a lack of corroborating evidence, but at least seven pled guilty or were convicted.

1913: Oregon Sterilization Act condemned “sexual perverts” and “moral degenerates.” This sparked our nation’s first gay rights referendum, with Oregon voters repealing the law by a 56% to 44% margin. However, Oregon accounted for about 92% of the total castrations performed in the United States between 1907 and 1921

1913: In State vs. Start the court decided that oral sex was a "crime against nature." The penalty for sodomy was increased to 15 years. (Definition expanded to include lesbian sex in the 1961 case State v. Black.)

1950: Portland police officer Earl Biggs and the famed Dr. Alfred Kinsey joined forces after Biggs published Sex, Science and Sin: A Study of Normal and Abnormal Sex Activity of Our Time in Relation to Science, the Law, and Religion, in which Biggs called for decriminalization of consensual homosexual involvement.

1953: Oregon passed a psychopathic offender law, under which those convicted of sodomy could receive a life sentence. 

1970: The Portland Gay Liberation Front was born.

In 1971, Peggy Burton, a teacher in Salem, Oregon, was fired for her sexual orientation. Burton became the first LGBT public school teacher in the United States to file a federal civil rights suit, and also the first LGBT Oregonian to file a civil rights lawsuit of any kind. Burton’s case lasted four years, and the court ruled her dismissal was wrongful. The court ordered the school district to pay her $10,000 but refused to order reinstatement. 

1972: Oregon became the fourth state to repeal its sodomy laws.

1973: Rep. Vera Katz (who later became Portland’s mayor) had introduced the state’s first gay rights bill, which failed to pass by two votes.

1975: Portland’s first outdoor pride celebration.

1987: state executive order was issued banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in state government employment. 

1988: Measure 8 passed, repealing the above executive order

1992: Measure 8 repealed by Oregon Supreme Court

In 1992, Bonnie Tinker, a Quaker, activist, and lesbian founded Love Makes A Family,  a non-profit organization working for equality and rights for LGBT families. When asked why she founded “Love Makes A Family,” Tinker replied,
“So our children would have a support system around them and so parents would see that it was possible to be out and have their children supported, and we could then be involved in an effort to really gain rights for our families."

1996: Basic Rights Oregon forms

2004: voters approved Ballot Measure 36, a constitutional amendment defining the marriage of a man and a woman as the only one recognized by the state, by a margin of 57% to 43%.

2004: Multnomah County attempted to issue some of the first gay marriage licenses in the country.

2007: Governor Ted Kulongoski signed the Oregon Family Fairness Act, recognizing domestic partnerships, and the Oregon Equality Act, which protects LGBTQ people from discrimination. The Oregon Equality Act makes Oregon one of only fifteen states that respect individual expression of gender identity.

2007: Rep. Tina Kotek was accused of violating Oregon state house rules when she kissed her wife Aimee on the house floor in response to Oregon granting same-sex couples the benefits of marriage.

2008: Sam Adams becomes the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city (Portland). 

2014: same-sex marriage is legalized is Oregon when a U.S. District Court judge declares the state's ban on such marriages unconstitutional.

2015: Oregon became the third state to ban performing conversion therapy on minors.

2016: Governor Kate Brown becomes the nation's first openly bisexual governor. 

2016: Oregon circuit court ruled that a resident could legally change their gender to non-binary. The Transgender Law Center believed this to be "the first ruling of its kind in the U.S."

2017: bill passed abolishing the 1991 requirement for transgender people to publish their names in newspapers before they can undergo a legal change of sex on government documents.

2019: Gov. Brown signed an executive order to add gender identity to a 1987 policy that prohibits state agencies from engaging in unlawful discrimination. Agencies will also be required an include a third gender option ("X") as a sex descriptor.

2019: Representative Karin Power introduced a bill to amend a 1951 Oregon mental health law that equated "transvestites" with pedophilia.

2021: law passes abolishing the archaic common-law "gay panic defense" and/or "trans panic defense" within murder, manslaughter and hate crime legal cases in all Oregon court rooms for judges, lawyers and/or juries.

Happy PRIDE!

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Oregon Synod
2800 N. Vancouver Ave., Suite #101
Portland, OR 97227

(503) 413-4191
Bishop Laurie Larson Caesar-
Bishop's Associate Juan Carlos La Puente-
Bishop's Associate Pr. Melissa Reed-
Synod Office (Jemae McCanna)- 
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Oregon Synod, ELCA · 2800 N Vancouver Ave, Suite 101 · Portland, OR 97227 · USA