June 17th, 2016, Portland, OR—In wake of the Orlando massacre and in celebration of PRIDE weekend, Oregon Fair Trade Campaign hosted a rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in front of Rep Earl Blumenauer’s office, highlighting the trade deal’s lack of protections for LGBT rights.
The TPP, which has been signed by 12 countries but is not ratified, has yet to enter congress. 26 House Democrats, led by Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, recently signed a letter asking President Obama to renegotiate the trade deal due its disregard for LGBT justice. The letter cites the TPP’s inclusion of Brunei, where the state can stone citizens to death for being in a same-sex partnership, and Malaysia, where police have arrested transgender individuals for their choice of clothing. The author addresses Obama, reading “Given the continued prevalence of attacks on the LGBT community in Malaysia and Brunei, we urge you to consider renegotiating the agreement to include protections for gender and sexual minorities and further demand that these countries treat all of their citizens as equal.”
Despite his recent statement of support for the LGBT community trailing the Orlando Massacre, Rep. Earl Blumenauer has failed to come out against the Trans Pacific Partnership. “With his voting history, Rep. Blumenauer has repeatedly voted for the interest of the queer community,” commented Shannon Michael, Executive Director of Oregon Fair Trade Campaign. “Blumenauer’s vote on the TPP will test the depth of his allyship to his LGBT constituents.” Peter Defazio, who has been vigilant in his resistant to the TPP, remains the only Oregon signatory on Pocan’s letter.
While Blumenauer previously voted yes to Fast Track the TPP, he has not yet declared what he will vote once the bill comes back to congress.
AJ Mendoza, a queer activist, noted, “You cannot merely share sympathy with LGBTQ victims of the Orlando massacre and call yourself an ally. If you are an ally, you don’t get to pick and choose when to vote for solidarity” Mendoza, who became the first openly gay student at George Fox University, an evangelical university in Newberg, Oregon, now serves as Executive Director of One George Fox, and is no stranger to empty words. “The United States has chosen to believe in the ugly lie of collateral damage. There is no economic gain that merits sacrifice of human life.”
Jobs remained at the forefront of the rally, which accumulated signatures for an emerging campaign, “Bad Trade kills Good Jobs.” Be Marston, an organizer at PRIDE @ Work and lead Bartender at Portland 5 shared, “The struggle for queer justice and the struggle of the labor movement are deeply connected. Like the stonewall riots, we are not here to meet the status quo of corporate interests, we are here to fight power.” Nghia Nguyen, a local trans community activist, declared, “We will not let corporations co-opt our movement. Queerness has been challenging colonialism and capitalism for hundreds of years, and we will fight the TPP that values profit over people.”
In the crowd of nearly 40 who attended the rally, activists pulled out their cell phones to immediately ask Blumeanuer to vote no on the TPP. Blumenauer and his staff where nowhere to be seen at the rally.
Drew Elizarde-Miller, Human Rights Intern, Oregon Fair Trade Campaign