When you think of the challenges confronting members of the LGBTQ community, obtaining a driver card is probably not the first thing that comes to mind.
But if you ask Luz—a Latina, lesbian, and first generation college graduate—she would tell you that this issue is crucial to her and 80,000 other immigrant families that live, work, and go to school in Oregon.
Luz has lived in the United States since she was five years old. She was raised in Oregon and has always considered it her home.
Through a lot of hard work, Luz was able to obtain what’s known as “deferred action for childhood arrival” (DACA) status—which allows undocumented youth temporary permission to stay in the United States. She is acutely aware that although her status allows her to have a driver license “…it could be gone at any time if the deferred action program stops.”
The right to obtain a driver card has been critical to Luz and her family’s survival. In any given week, she finds herself driving to and from work, the grocery store, medical appointments, and volunteering. Not being able to drive legally would affect her ability to earn a living and make it harder for her to prioritize her health and well-being.
“People need to go to work—especially when public transportation isn’t available—and attend school, and doctor’s appointments.” Luz explained. “Not being able to drive legally affects every aspect of our lives, our families, and friends.”
Luz first became active on this issue by attending weekly meetings with Causa’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Program. Causa is Oregon’s leading Latino immigrant rights organization and the organization spearheading the Yes for Safe Roads Campaign.
The goal of this campaign is to ensure that all people, regardless of documentation status, are able to obtain a driver card and keep the state’s roads and communities safe. Measure 88—a statewide initiative that will be on Oregon’s ballot this November—will do just that. If a majority of Oregonians vote yes on Measure 88, the DMV will create a limited purpose and limited duration driver card for applicants that pass the state’s driving tests, provide proof of Oregon residency, and proof of identity.
LGBTQ equality has long been a critical component of Causa’s work, and the organization is dedicated to supporting people that have intersecting marginalized identities.
This is critical, given that LGBTQ Latinos face striking disparities in economic security, health outcomes, and educational access. Latina lesbian couples on average earn less than Latino heterosexual couples, while Latino gay men are disproportionately infected with HIV. These disparities have a ripple effect—impacting the ability of LGBTQ Latinos to support their families and stay healthy.
To acknowledge the vital work that Causa is doing for our community in Oregon, Pride Foundation awarded Causa the Ted Lord Grant for Allied Communities—an annual grant given to an organization whose work exemplifies Pride Foundation’s vision of a world free from prejudice. This grant is awarded in honor of past Pride Foundation Executive Director Ted Lord, as an acknowledgment of his leadership and the important role the allied community plays in our work.
Pride Foundation has been a long-time supporter of Causa, and saw the Ted Lord Grant as a timely opportunity to further support their efforts.
As we continue to build a growing movement towards equality for all, it is more important than ever that we find ways to support the diverse range of issues impacting our community.
Katie Carter is Pride Foundation’s regional development organizer in Oregon. Email Katie.