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Marriage equality: Basic Rights Oregon decides to not go to ballot in 2012

Marriage equality

By Adam Bink

Announced by their board.

After careful consideration and extensive community input, Basic Rights Oregon’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to extend our public education campaign and continue to build public support. We will not pursue a ballot measure on marriage in 2012.

Today we re-commit ourselves to this effort. We’re committed to opening a new dialogue with our friends, family and neighbors and, ultimately, winning the freedom to marry.

Here’s the statement from Basic Rights Oregon’s Board of Directors:

For three years, Basic Rights Oregon has led a proactive community education campaign to build public support for the freedom to marry for all caring and committed couples. We have reached out to our neighbors in communities across the state, engaged in thoughtful conversations, and shared our stories in TV ads and online.

This work is opening hearts and changing minds. Every day more and more Oregonians are coming to support the freedom to marry.

In Oregon, the only path to allowing same-gender couples to join in civil marriage is through the ballot. It is not a question of if we will cross this threshold, but when.

We have considered the possibility of putting this issue on the ballot for the 2012 election. However several factors, including the expense of waging a statewide political campaign in the midst of an economic crisis, led us to conclude that we are better off extending our education campaign and building momentum for a later election.

Ballot measures in Oregon have historically been used to attack the gay and transgender community. Today, we are finally in the driver’s seat, deciding when to go forward with a proactive ballot measure to achieve equality, instead of just fighting back. That presents our community with a tremendous opportunity and an immense responsibility.

To reach this decision, we evaluated a variety of data including an online survey with over 1,000 respondents from across Oregon. We convened a group of community leaders and campaign professionals, and held town halls in communities around the state.

The feedback we have overwhelmingly heard is that we must allow our education work to continue. The progress we’ve made in increasing support for the freedom to marry will only get better in the next two years.

Today we re-commit ourselves to this effort. We’re committed to opening a new dialogue with our friends, family and neighbors and, ultimately, winning the freedom to marry.

The Basic Rights Oregon Board: Laura Dellinger, Vanessa Usui, Kerry Johnson, Al Machemehl, Margi Hoffman, Moira Bowman, Debbie Burke, Dave Cutler, Frank Dixon, Nancy Haque, Scott Hossner, Steven Johnston.


  • 1. DaveP  |  November 9, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    I'm curious about this statement in the article: "In Oregon, the only path to allowing same-gender couples to join in civil marriage is through the ballot". Why is this? Why can't there be a challenge in the courts, like we did in California? I'm not saying that I think they should or should not attempt to take it to the ballot, I really don't know what is the best way to achieve marriage equality in Oregon. I just don't understand why they say the ballot is the only way.

  • 2. PDXDru  |  November 9, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I asked the same question; apparently we tried to go to the courts immediately after Measure 36 passed in 2004, and the courts refused to hear the case…. I can ask BRO and find out more details.

    Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

  • 3. DaveP  |  November 9, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    ???????????? !!!

  • 4. Seth from Maryland  |  November 9, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    i really thought oreagon had a good chance to pass marriage equality in 2012, im actually a little bit shocked that that did not try it, but i can understand their postion because i would not want them to try and make a move unless they knew they could win, because losing could cause damage,

  • 5. Barb  |  November 9, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    How so? What damage will losing do?

  • 6. Barb  |  November 9, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Which court? State or federal?

  • 7. AnonyGrl  |  November 10, 2011 at 6:07 am

    It is disheartening, it is expensive, it may undermine future court cases, it fuels NOM and their ilk, it makes some people reconsider their position which makes the fight a bit tougher next time… there can be various damages.

    I happen to think that the benefits may outweigh the possible harm, but it is not my call to make.

    On the other hand, I don't think that we SHOULD be putting this issue up for a popular vote anywhere. Even where we can win, the precedent is not a great one.

  • 8. Ronnie  |  November 10, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Subscribing & sharing….. The murderer of Ugandan Gay Rights Activist David Kato has been given 30years in prison.

    Some justice I guess, but quite frankly he should have been given life….. : / …Ronnie

  • 9. Gray Coyote  |  November 10, 2011 at 8:01 am

    They went through the state courts, not federal.

    BRO needs to hook up with AFER.

  • 10. Be4Marriage  |  November 10, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I think Maine was able to get the necessary signatures using volunteers. Didn't cost them a dime. Don't have funding to run 30 second ads? Great, because they don't change the minds of voters. Let NOM spend their money, They'll have less of it next time. Best reason to go to the ballot: we learn nothing by sitting on our butts at home. We may not win this time, but we will learn valuable lessons that we can use in the next state, or the next year.

  • 11. John  |  November 10, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Wholeheartedly agree. No vote, no one cares, and no one has any idea that we care either. It's a strategy premised on weakness and fear, and you know NOM prefers it this way. And look at EQCA right now. Who wants to donate to a campaign rallying around the slogan, "Let's wait till 2016!"

  • 12. John  |  November 10, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    It's disheartening also not to bother trying.

  • 13. Thark  |  November 11, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    The Flop * trial tapes going viral changes this whole picture. And the best part? Once Flop 8 is taken of life-support, watch the flood gates of challenges unfurl on the hapless Antigay freaks left behind their "constitutional" amendments designed to harm gays and only gays while leaving all other unmolested…

    As California goes, SO goes the nation.

    H8ers of H8erville: adjust.

    (Or don't. Irrational bigotry isn't a valid basis for law making, it turns out so the opinion of bigots is suddenly quite useless to the rest of the TRUE America. where people would rather follow the constitutiton than edit it everytime a AH8er spots something they don't "like"…)

    Sheesh…I can't wait to watch these constiitution-shredder eat Crowe…

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