Lawmakers hold roundtable with LGBTQ activists

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley met with members and allies of the LGBTQ community Friday to hear suggestions on how to make the country a safer, more inclusive place for all. 

Those who attended the roundtable discussion at the Q Center in Portland brought up several concerns with the senators and also shared their personal struggles and experiences with discrimination. 

They brought up topics like suicide and LGBTQ children. 

While there is new legislation in Oregon to address those concerns, supporters believe more still needs to be done at the local and national levels. 

Members of the transgender community shared their experiences of discrimination within healthcare and the military. They touched on fear of violence and hate crimes. 

LGBTQ leaders and the senators said there have been policies passed by the Trump administration that negatively impact the LGBTQ community that they want to reverse. 

“I don’t fear for Oregonians’ basic protections,” said Nancy Haque, the executive director of Basic Rights Oregon. “What I fear for is the climate of hate that seems to be unleashed by the harmful policies of the Trump administration.” 

Sen. Wyden echoed that sentiment. 

“I call the Trump administration the ‘administration of discrimination’ because they try to force so many Americans — and certainly LGBTQ Americans — back into the shadows.” 

Nothing concrete was established during Friday’s meeting but Wyden and Merkley pledged to look into the issues to try to find ways to bring equality to LGBTQ Americans. 

Meanwhile, the leaders with Basic Rights Oregon stressed that June is Pride Month and there is much to celebrate. 

A pride parade is set to take place Sunday in Portland.