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Anti-marriage equality organization preps religious liberties ballot initiative push

Marriage equality

Oregon State SealMarriage equality is well on its way towards becoming a reality in Oregon: last month, the state announced it would honor out-of-state marriage licenses for same-sex couples just one day after two couples filed a federal suit seeking equal marriage rights.  Just as importantly, it is all but certain that Oregon voters will go to the polls in November 2014 to repeal the state’s marriage equality ban, and early polling suggests a plurality of voters are prepared to do just that.

It may come as little surprise, then, that the group behind the the very ban that voters will likely reconsider next year–a ban voters themselves approved in a 2004 ballot initiative–are planning to go to the ballot next year as well.  This time, though, there’s a bit of an interesting twist.  The Portland Tribune reports:

Oregon Family Council, the conservative Christian group that helped lead the 2004 campaign to bar same-sex marriage in Oregon, is turning its attention in a new direction.

The East Portland group filed a state ballot initiative Thursday, Nov. 21, that would guarantee the right of people and businesses to refrain from participating in or supporting ceremonies for same-sex civil unions, domestic partnerships or marriages, if those violate their religious beliefs.

The group calls the measure the Protect Religious Freedom Initiative.

The measure is a response to public penalties and lawsuits brought against bakers, florists and photographers in Oregon, Washington, Colorado and New Mexico who refused to play roles in same-sex ceremonies for civil unions, domestic partnerships or marriages, says Teresa Harke communications director for Oregon Family Council.

What’s interesting here is that social conservatives and anti-marriage equality forces–at least in blue or purple states like Oregon–seem to be moving away from fights against marriage equality per se and towards religious liberties and conscious clauses instead.  Even in Indiana, a fairly deep-red state, legislators are distancing themselves from efforts to add a marriage equality ban to the state constitution: the Times of Northwest Indiana reported this week that the Republican senate president and speaker of the house “visibly cringed and were reluctant to answer” when questioned Monday about the proposed ban.

That’s good news for LGBT advocates, because it shows just has dramatically the ground has shifted in their favor in recent years.  Still, next year’s amendment vote in Oregon is likely to be close, and there will certainly be conservative groups working to get out the vote in favor of keeping the ban.

85 Comments

  • 1. Richard Weatherwax  |  November 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    If the Oregon Family Council was really interested in protecting religious liberty they would have come out with a ballot initiative which would be inclusive of all beliefs, and not merely anti-gay beliefs. However an initiative would allow people and businesses to discriminate against blacks, Jews, immigrants, or any others on the basis of personal religious belief would be declared unconstitutional if not immediately rejected by the voters.

  • 2. Straight Ally #3008  |  November 22, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Could it be they're trying for a booby prize after their marriage ban goes down in flames at the ballot box? This is much stealthier.

  • 3. Zack12  |  November 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    It's plain as day they are singling out gays and lesbians under this ban and thus it will be struck down before you can blink.

  • 4. Dale  |  November 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    This is a new approach. Never been tried before. It will be interesting to see how the presence of this measure on the ballot interacts with and impacts the campaign for passage of marriage equality. Ironically, I could see it boosting the final vote for the marriage equality measure because some wary center-right voters could vote for the religious exemption measure and then feel satisfied that it was now safe to vote for the equality measure. However, it is unlikely that a vote either way on the exemption measure would prompt an undecided voter to reject the marriage equality measure.

    Two observations about the religious exemption measure itself:

    One, I was shocked to see that it is limited to exemptions for services for weddings and comparable ceremonies. I would have thought for sure they would make it an exemption for any business or individual to discriminate against a same sex married couple in any context. The fact that they felt it necessary to limit it to wedding services tells you something about how they see the political map.

    Two, although I suspect this will do well at the ballot, I don't think it can survive constitutional muster. By singling out same-sex marriages and making the exemption applicable only to them, the measure raises Equal Protection issues. By providing protections from government penalties only for those who refuse to participate in same sex weddings and not for those who participate in same sex weddings, the measure likely violates the Free Speech and Establishment Clauses of the 1st Amendment. The measure should have simply provided an exemption for all businesses and individuals who, for religious reasons, do not wish to participate in any wedding ceremony for religious reasons.and to forbid Oregon from punishing anyone for their participation or refusal to participate in any wedding. By singling out one set of weddings based on the gender of the participants and by elevating and protecting one set of religious objections while ignoring others, they have made this measure vulnerable to a court challenge..

  • 5. davep  |  November 22, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    (1) It may not have been tried as a ballot measure before, but it has been tried by defense lawyers in cases where businesses had gotten into trouble by refusing to provide services simply because the customers were a same sex couple. And it has already been established that it's not a legitimate defense and doesn't trump public accommodation laws.

  • 6. davep  |  November 22, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    (2) People are entitled to their religious beliefs, but when they are operating a business that offers goods and services to the public, they are not entitled to deny those goods and services to members of the public based on their religious beliefs. Otherwise, someone could easily claim their 'deeply held beliefs' as justification for denying hotel rooms to interracial couples, denying a loan to a Jewish person, refusing to offer their towing service for the disabled car that belongs to an immigrant, etc.

    If this does get voted into effect, it will be ruled unconstitutional. It really would be nice if states that had such low bars for getting things onto the ballot had a process that provided at least some degree of checks and balances to keep obviously unconstitutional ballot measures off the ballot and avoid long and expensive court cases to undo decisions made by the public which are clearly unconstitutional (in addition to Oregon, California and Prop 8 certainly comes to mind).

  • 7. Dr. Z  |  November 22, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    There are at least two problems with checking the constitutionality of a ballot initiative before it quailfies:
    1. Prior restraint on free speech, and
    2. The way the campaign is conducted helps establish whether animus was a factor.

    Quite agree this measure is unconstitutional on its face, and I also agree with Dale that this is likely to backfire if people are more likely to vote to repeal Amendment 36 as long as they can also vote for this (doomed) amendment.

  • 8. John  |  November 22, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Why isn't this web site keeping up with AB1266? Could it be that they are more focused on non-transgendered, or intersexed issues?

  • 9. John  |  November 22, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    And it's no wonder why our courts are always congested. There does need to be checks and balances. This has nothing to do with "free speech". Thats a bunch of BS.

  • 10. Paul  |  November 22, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    These morons might want to google a little case called Romer v. Evans before they waste money collecting signatures for this crap.

  • 11. ebohlman  |  November 23, 2013 at 4:04 am

    There was a post about it 10 days ago.

  • 12. J.C  |  November 23, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Oregon equality groups need to be working with unwavering passion starting like…YESTERDAY. Learn everything TO do from Maryland equality groups, and learn everything NOT to do from us in California during prop 8. In Maryland, they literally went door to door to door to door to door….just knocking on people's doors, introducing themselves, and speaking to them. A grassroots campaign that was a year long, with volunteers of all ages and stripes working overload. That's what wins. Being out there interacting with people. Not just cocktail parties for those already on our side.

  • 13. bayareajohn  |  November 23, 2013 at 11:25 am

    I think there is a possibility that a well crafted religious/social conscience law could be created and enjoy wide agreement… Something to the effect that a small business or individual may legally refuse or withdraw if they are asked to perform PERSONAL SERVICES that require PERSONAL PARTICIPATION in a CEREMONY to which they have conscientious objection. Some further limits: The business must have less than x number of employees (larger companies have a duty to be less limiting), the services cannot be scarce or licensed to limit choices in the marketplace. PERSONAL services to be defined as individual creative or personally involving services (like making a wedding dress, not making a wedding cake), and PARTICIPATION to be defined as being beyond providing goods or ordinary undifferentiated services (so ordinary catering would NOT be participation, but wedding photography would be).. CEREMONY would need definition too, but you get the idea… Such a law would protect individuals and small businesses from being forced to provide personally involving services for Satanist rituals, Fundamentalist prayer meetings, KKK events, bar mitzvahs, and same-sex marriages alike. And probably be popular. And this would demolish the religious argument without undermining minority rights.

  • 14. Chris M.  |  November 23, 2013 at 11:32 am

    I think we need to seriously get our game plan together when it comes to these religious licenses to discriminate. The thought that private businesses should be allowed to discriminate against anyone they wish, gay, black, Jewish, or what have you, is quite popular with libertarian youth, those who do not know much about how the civil rights laws came about, and how life was previously. We really need to get on top of this, or more onerous religious exemptions will render some of our had-fought victories hollowed out.

  • 15. Stefan  |  November 23, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    They should take advice from Maryland and the other 3 states from 2012. I worked on the campaign here in Minnesota and I can attest we did the same things as Maryland; told our stories and raised awareness. I have no doubt that Oregon is going to win in 2014, as will several additional states.

  • 16. Dr. Z  |  November 23, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    This line of reasoning ends when any business (small or otherwise) or individual is allowed to withhold any product or service to anyone or anything they find objectionable. There is a slippery slope here and once you start carving out special exceptions to accomodate bigots there will be no placating them until they have the full right to discriminate against anyone. Furthermore, LGBT rights are still in their infancy and the precedents we set now will guide the law for years to come. We could very well come to a new legal status quo in which the law will no longer actively abridge our rights, but neither will it provide us any protection. No hate crimes act enforcement; no ENDA; no civil rights protections.

    No matter how the religious right tries to dress this up and sell it, we have to strongly oppose it. Otherwise our post-marriage-equality future will be anything but equal.

  • 17. Dr. Z  |  November 23, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    I can't speak for Maryland politics but Oregon voters are no strangers to these battles. Our community fought against antigay initiatives in 1988 (lost), 1992 (won), 1994 (won), 2000 (won), and it is because of that experience we were the one state in 2004 where it was hoped that we could defeat the big wave of DOMA laws. Unfortunately the tide was too strong.

    BRO has been engaged in an outreach campaign on this issue since 2010. They knew from that campaign that putting this on the ballot in 2012 was just a little too soon, and judging from the squeaker margin in Washington in 2012 they were probably right. Marriage equality in WA is outpolling OR by a small margin, enough to alter the outcome for us.

    At this stage of the campaign the name of the game is organizing, solidifying name brand support, raising money and preparing for an all out assault in the spring. The NOM tactics have evolved so that they wait until late in the campaign to release the sewers onto television and scare people that their kids would be in danger.

    I have my differences with BRO, but I don't doubt their experience and ability to win. In Oregon, this ain't our first time at the rodeo.

  • 18. bayareajohn  |  November 23, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Maybe you didn't read my discussion of how limits would have to be defined. Your "slippery slope" is popular with the RIGHT when discussing how same sex marriage will cause the end of all life on the planet, It's just about as rational as saying speed limit laws will ultimately mean that no one can leave their home.

    The discussion on the table is about exceptions. We're going to see continuing pressure to have what the general public feels are "common sense" exceptions to avoid a totalitarian state. If exceptions are to be entertained, I just suggested a concept for exceptions that might be more fair and wide based, and not targeted just at religion or gays.

  • 19. grod  |  November 23, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    J.C. Surprised that you did not mention Maine, similar age distribution, educational attainment, and annual per capita income.

  • 20. Tom  |  November 23, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    I can only ponder what might have happened if such conscience protections were included in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Let alone if the Emancipation Proclamation included religious liberty protections for Southern Catholic Monasteries so they could retain their slaves.

  • 21. bayareajohn  |  November 23, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Once again ignoring the content and embracing the slope. What part of an individual or small business refusing to personally participate in a ceremony in the course of their business, with limitations as discussed, could be so completely misconstrued as to permit retention of slaves?

    For the record, I am not encouraging exceptions. But if there be exceptions, let them be rational.

  • 22. Tom  |  November 23, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Perhaps the issue is in the definition of common sense exceptions. Today, religious liberty common sense exceptions would obviously NOT include the retention of slaves for Southern Catholic monasteries.

    Lets go back to the era of the mid 1800's… and look at what many folks considered to be common sense practices, therein might be the answer.

  • 23. bayareajohn  |  November 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Perhaps that's why common sense laws change across time. What is your point? Yes, in the 1800's, laws reflected the society of that era. We're discussing laws for the world as it is today. Exceptions will come and go as do beliefs. They are not "appeasement" and inherently evil. My belief that religion is foolish and destructive and delusional does not diminish nor does it uplift someone who feels the same about my sexuality. When entirely reasonable alternatives exist, fairness and equality do not demand that I or someone else be rigidly compelled by law to actively participate in someone else's delusion. Therefore, such a rigid law is at risk of overstepping fairness and equality instead of promoting them.

  • 24. Richard Weatherwax  |  November 23, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    The courts have already taken all of this into consideration in numerous past civil rights and freedom of religion decisions. Instead of setting up new rules, the GLBT sector need only to insist upon the same protections and guidelines which the Constitution and the Court has given to other minority groups.

  • 25. davep  |  November 23, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Yeah, You're right Dr. Z. So another option would be to 'raise the bar' again for getting something on the ballot (increasing the number of signatures required again), but it seems that part of the problem we're seeing now is based on the fact that, due to things like advancements in technology and social media, it has become easier to reach the required number of qualifying signatures, and simply increasing the required number will be nothing more than a stop gap measure and will result in a sort of 'arms race' between the state trying to limit ballot measures to those that are some legitimate question for the voters, and special interest groups & extremists simply finding more advanced & efficient ways to get the signatures they need.

    I'm really not sure what could be done to continue to assure an open society with unimpaired access to the democratic process while helping to either reduce the number of harmful and unconstitutional ballot measures, or at least make it quicker and easier get unconstitutional measures through the courts more efficiently to 'undo' them quicker and minimize the harm they cause while they are in effect…. I think it's a tough one.

  • 26. Mark  |  November 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Why would they be focused on "intersexed" issues? The vast majority of LGBs are not "intersexed" or transgender. What you are really insinuating is that there is something wrong about gay people focusing on gay civil rights. You can take that hegemonic, homophobic view back to the bigoted swamp from which it came.

    BTW, since you are crusading, please feel free to go to one fo the many trans-only blogs or one of the trans-only legal and political organizations and ask them why they aren't keeping up with marriage equality and gay parental rights issues. You can also ask those trans bloggers why they actively opposed marriage equality in 2012 and urged people to vote "no" in order to punish lesbian and gay families.

  • 27. Tom  |  November 23, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    You consider carving out special exceptions to current public accommodations law to be acceptable and reasonable alternatives for a majority of folks. Where the difference could be is that I am not at that juncture. I don't believe a new practice of carving out exceptions or the proposed alternatives to be reasonable in our public accommodations law.

  • 28. davep  |  November 23, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Hi bayareajohn, The issue is not where you draw the line regarding participation versus non-participation, or how you define 'ceremony'. The issue is why should any line be drawn regarding same sex couples, when it is not acceptable to draw that same line regarding interracial couples, or Jewish couples? If there's no legally valid reason for this type of exception for 'religious beliefs' regarding other couples, there's no legally valid reason for this type of exception regarding same sex couples either.

  • 29. Dale  |  November 23, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    I am familiar with the history of BRO and its many battles with the Oregon Citizens Alliance. I agree with you that it has a reputation for competence and effectiveness.

    However, I disagree or question your comment to this extent:

    – BRO's last win was in 2000. How effective is it today? What can you tell us about whether it has maintained its network and its skilled staff or whether that has atrophied over the years? And what was the perception of the 2004 campaign? I wouldn't expect them to pull out a win in 2004, but weren't the expectations higher for a closer vote? South Dakota actually got a higher no vote than OR.

    – I have mixed feelings about the petition effort so far. There is no doubt that this is a substantial effort and that they are going to get the required number of signatures. But after a bounding start, the effort has slowed. I just saw a report that they are now at about 115,000. They need to add another 1,000 to that and then gather a large number of signatures to build a cushion against invalidations. My estimate is that it is going to take them another 3-4 months to do this at their current pace. Considering that they started back in the summer, that's a long time to get this done. In 2004, the antigay side got all their sigs in, with a huge cushion, in about 6 weeks. If they are going slow because they are genuinely using the petitioning as a chance to have conversations with voters and to build volunteer databases, then I don't mind the slow pace. But if it is taking this long because they don't have the people or resources to go faster, then that's a bad sign.

    – The margin in WA in 2012 was not a squeaker. The margin was the largest of the 4 states, about 7.4%. BRO made a mistake by not going ahead in 2012. I can't say that it was an obvious mistake at the time they made it. But in hindsight, it clearly was a mistake. Now they will have the benefit of 2 additional years to prepare, but they will suffer the decreased turnout in a mid-term election.

  • 30. Dale  |  November 23, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I am not worried that they will act like incompetents at No on 8. I am a little more worried that they may act like our side in Maine in 2009. Our side was so certain that they were doing a good job. They were so pleased with the "feel" of their campaign and with their TV ads and with their vibrant volunteers and their fundraising. And all of that really was top notch.. But it was an off-off-year election. In the end, the thing that mattered most was get-out-the-vote, and they were woefully inadequate in that regard. The other side destroyed them on GOTV and we lost 53-47 even though our campaign was "superior" in almost every other respect.

    2014 is a midterm election, not an off-off year, and OR has voting by mail, so GOTV may not be as all-important as it was in ME in 2009. But it is still one of the most important factors here, and I hope that our side has that in mind at all times.

  • 31. bayareajohn  |  November 23, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Listen to yourself – you consider "carving out special exceptions" (i.e, change) to current public marriage laws to be reasonable because of what you believe is right. You consider it unacceptable when someone else suggests carving exceptions in the change you demand, based on what they believe.

    The carving is perpetual, and is called the social process. To ignore the fact of laws being negotiated, of the concept of what constitutes rights being give-and-take and fluid across time is to embrace another kind of bigotry.

    We're winning, and will continue to win if we don't go fascist on it and create backlash, which our opponents can manipulate to demonstrate our irrationality and to foster fear.

  • 32. Dale  |  November 23, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I tend to agree with you about religious exemptions, although bayareajohn's proposal at least has some objective criteria (size of business, type of service) which would limit the slippery slope problem.

    The most bizarre thing about the religious exemption issue is how it is not fully resolved all these many decades after civil rights laws came into existence. I am not sure when the very first broad civil rights law was. I know there was a fairly narrow federal law enacted in the 1870s. A really broad law comparable to the Civil Rights Act of 64 was passed in New York City in 1948. So you would think that by now, the issue of religious individuals and private businesses owned by religious individuals would have been resolved a long time ago.

    But that isn't so. In fact, you have Christian legal groups and even a number of liberal academics arguing today that everything that one does in life that is religiously motivated constitutes the "exercise of religion" and thus is exempt from legal restriction absent a showing by the state that it has a compelling interest to enforce that law in that particular instance. That would effectively exempt the religious person not only from antidiscrimination laws, but all laws, except those that further a compelling state interest when specifically applied to them.

  • 33. Zack12  |  November 23, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    That is my biggest fear as well.
    People are acting like the gay marriage ban fight in OR is won already,very dangerous thinking.
    Plus,if the Obamacare rollout continues to fumble,Democrats everywhere will be a target,including ones in Blue states.
    That will bring out the right wing base in droves,I don't know if the gay marriage ban will be enough to do the same for our side.

  • 34. weshlovrcm  |  November 23, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    We know that homophobia is a sin and akin to all types of bigotry. Aggressive pro-homophobia pressure groups are simply looking for a gateway to limit (and eventually end) all Civil Rights protections. It's no secret that many on the right are against the Civil Rights Act. First people don't have to serve gay customers due to "conscience." Who's next? Mexicans? Asians? Women? Single moms? And then which Civil Right protection is on the chopping block for which group? Where do the carve outs end?

  • 35. Tom  |  November 23, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Davep said it better than I could below.. What merits carving out exceptions now, and drawing a line that has never been done before.. I just don't consider that social progress, let alone social justice.

  • 36. If not now..when?  |  November 23, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    "First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me." – Martin Niemöller

  • 37. bayareajohn  |  November 23, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    And then they forced you to take pictures at the KKK convention. And then sued you for not making them look cheery.

  • 38. bayareajohn  |  November 23, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Are you deliberately paraphrasing Rick Santorum without irony?

  • 39. Stefan  |  November 23, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    -I've had some contact with BRO/Oregon United for Marriage and they seem to be doing exactly what they should be at this point. Also, South Dakota had a narrower margin because it was 2 years later and was a much broader amendment, banning all relationship recognition while the one in Oregon was only about marriage.

    -They are indeed using the signature gathering process to have conversations and build their base, yes. Also, remember too that the campaign will benefit from the trickled down/up effect of Oregon being right between Washington and California. People have already been exposed to much of the messaging from both states.

    -In Oregon, like Washington, all voting is done by mail, so GOTV is MUCH easier compared to other states. Also, studies have now shown that our side now has the enthusiasm advantage on this issues, as was evident in the high voter turnouts in states with this issue on the ballot in 2012 (most notably Washington and Minnesota).

  • 40. Paul  |  November 23, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    But that becomes a matter of contract law, not public accommodations law. Unless you also want limited protections to provide substandard products or services, "just because."

  • 41. bayareajohn  |  November 23, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    I was going the "hate crime" of performing poorly deliberately.
    But enough of this, points have been aired.

  • 42. Matt  |  November 23, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    If this religious carve-out passes, I think it will be challenged and struck down in court. The state of Oregon would be discriminating against LGBT people by having and enforcing this law, and the Supreme Court just ruled that this is unconstitutional. The measure would also be a "law respecting an establishment of religion," because it would cater to those religious groups whose "beliefs" (animus) are anti-gay.

  • 43. Matt  |  November 23, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Weshlovrcm does seem to be turning the right wing's slippery slope tactics against them. Well, what's good for the goose and all that. :)

  • 44. Junior  |  November 24, 2013 at 4:26 am

    Thank you! THANK YOU. I am an unwavering supporter of all LGBT, especially trans, but I can't tell you how many trans foundation fundraisers and events I've attended where I have personally heard some of the most hurtful disregard, and flat out homophobia toward gays and lesbians. Yes, right here in California too. The resent against us is one thing, hearing "stfu about your marriage rights. Get your civil unions and get on with it you uppity f-gs" by members and chair persons of trans foundations is a bit startling but…yeah. Sigh.

  • 45. J.C  |  November 24, 2013 at 4:37 am

    Yeah…that's why I made my initial post. Every meme I've been getting out of Oregon equality groups is "we got this!"…..I'm sorry, but no LGBT group regarding ANY LGBT rights issues via the ballot should ever feel so confident. Just ask those of us around during Prop 8. We too thought we had it in the bag. I'm just nervous Oregon equality groups don't have enough nervousness.

  • 46. J.C  |  November 24, 2013 at 4:39 am

    Please stop. You're dancing around a discriminatory policy in public accommodation that targets a specific group (LGBT)…Regardless of how it's rebranded and reworded, that's what that is, and it indeed will fall flat on it's face in the constitutional test there.

  • 47. Henrito  |  November 24, 2013 at 4:42 am

    There should be no exception and those of us in the LGBT community will not stand for exceptions. We'll go to court, we'll lawyer up and we'll use the constitution and any muster we can on our side and will be triumphant. Please realize this and know the days of us compromising our second class treatment are over.

  • 48. Two Dads  |  November 24, 2013 at 4:44 am

    That's a whole lotta writing and not actually saying much. I'll simplify this for you: Public accommodation discrimination will not be tolerated. And our equality groups in no state's will stand for them. Next issue.

  • 49. J.C  |  November 24, 2013 at 4:45 am

    well said Tom!

  • 50. Kyle Landry  |  November 24, 2013 at 4:48 am

    You make discriminatory policy of denying basic public accommodation to an entire demographic seem like just a simple difference of opinion. It's a difference between discrimination and equal access. Seeing you have these exchanges with the folks above, and you, bayaerajohn, strike me as the type of person who just enjoys hearing yourself argue. You're not actually listening to the rebuttals being made. Carving out exceptions based on belief systems in regard to public policy paves the way for complete chaos in terms of discrimination of a plethora of groups. You seem to have it drilled in your head that said discrimination toward LGBT is a mere difference of opinion. It's not.

  • 51. J.C  |  November 24, 2013 at 4:52 am

    Respectfully, you're being petty now, and the KKK photo op comparison to what is happening with same sex couples being denied accommodations is insulting at best and calculating on your part at worst.

  • 52. Junior  |  November 24, 2013 at 4:56 am

    It will absolutely be challenged and struck down in courts before the bigots can even spell victory. It's discrimination, no matter what salad dressing they use.

  • 53. Sagesse  |  November 24, 2013 at 6:01 am

    There are two risks at play with 'religious protection' laws. There is the group of states that have reasonably robust and comprehensive LGB(T) anti-discrimination laws (employment, housing, public accommodation, adoption, bullying) separate from civil unions or marriage. Then there are the states (Pennsylvania comes to mind) without much in the way of LGBT anti-discrimination laws.

    The damage that can be done by 'religious protection' clauses or constitutional amendments is much greater if there is no foundation of basic protection in the first place.

  • 54. Josh  |  November 24, 2013 at 6:40 am

    I think they should increase the number of signatures required and require a 2/3 majority to pass on election day.

  • 55. Josh  |  November 24, 2013 at 7:17 am

    I agree it won't stand up in court. Why are they making a stink just about gay couples? Where is the opposition by these religious people to working for other couples that don't match their religious beliefs? Surely there are more divorced people marrying again, people who live together and had sex before marriage, atheist couples, etc than gay couples. Their "sincere beliefs" seem awfully targeted, almost as if they aren't being honest. Surely "religious" people wouldn't be dishonest toward gay people, would they? I guess for them it's ok to deceive when it's against people they see as inferior to them.

  • 56. Steve  |  November 24, 2013 at 8:46 am

    There is no such thing as sin. It's an invention of power hungry people: create the sickness and sell the cure.

  • 57. Wynngard  |  November 24, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Off-topic, but a poll shows that a majority of respondents in Mexico (52 percent) support marriage equality. I believe this is the first time majority support has been reached in Mexico. Unfortunately, the poll also shows that 70 percent of respondents disapprove of same-sex couples adopting children. http://www.parametria.com.mx/carta_parametrica.ph

  • 58. bayareajohn  |  November 24, 2013 at 11:15 am

    And respectfully, I disagree that the the comparison is unfair. The General Population is alarmed to hear that a photographer can be be sued for not taking a gay wedding.job. NOM and Santorum say that churches will be forced to perform gay marriages, scaring more folks. Hence there will be discussions about what might be exempt. And if we don't help that discussion stay reasoned, it won't be.

  • 59. Equal Protection  |  November 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    But why just LGBT couples? What is the valid legal rationale under equal protection? "Why is not acceptable to draw that same line regarding interracial couples, or Jewish couples? If there's no legally valid reason for this type of exception for 'religious beliefs' regarding other couples, there's no legally valid reason for this type of exception regarding same sex couples either."

  • 60. Kaye  |  November 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    BayareaJohn, but why penalize the wedding dress maker or photographer through loss of revenue? Limited carve out protections in consumer protection laws, allowing these business to charge LGBT couples normal rates, but deliver the wedding photos with a satanic ungodly sinful theme on inferior quality photographic paper? Or a wedding dress so poorly sewn and made with inferior materials that it falls apart on the wedding day? This way the photographer and wedding dress maker get to make their statement about the inferior relationships, making their God happy, and get the revenue for doing the lords work? We need to start having these well reasoned discussions about the best path forward for your limited exemptions.

  • 61. John  |  November 25, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Really? Dude I'm gay. I'm sure asking a simple question. No need to get all snooty. Vast majority of gay and lesbians do forget about BTI.

    Clearly you've got issues.

  • 62. Dr. Z  |  November 25, 2013 at 9:23 am

    BRO is in far better shape than the opposition Christian Coalition. Since the last ballot initiative in 2004 we've known that we would one day have to return to the voters at the right time. Every LGBT in the community knows it. So it's not like BRO has ceased to be active. They've been busy building coalitions, polling, working on court challenges, and having outreach.

    The CC, on the other hand, had all but ceased to exist after 2004. They couldn't even gather enough sigs to prevent our DP law from taking effect in 2008. And Oregon has a ridiculously low bar for qualifying initiatives, particularly measures that don't amend the constitution.

    What I've heard is that the CC front group opposing the repeal is having such a hard time attracting money/volunteers/enthusiasm that this latest "religious exemptions" initiative was offered precisely to help them get organized.

  • 63. Dr. Z  |  November 25, 2013 at 9:43 am

    On the 2012 WA state ballot results it looks like we were both mistaken. I was basing my "squeaker" statement on the election night returns – which were very close. However, the final result was much better with a 6.4% margin (not 7.4%).

    One factor that must be taken into account in Oregon is the "crystalization" factor. When voters have previously voted on a measure they become more resistant to changing their minds. That means BRO was justifiably cautious in not rushing back to the ballot prematurely.

    My beef with BRO is that they've been too timid in pursuing an aggressive legal challenge to the law. All of their legal challenges to date have been in state rather than federal court, unless there's something else they did that I was unaware of.

  • 64. Dale  |  November 25, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Few quick responses and a question:

    – The R74 vote was 53.7-46.3%. That's a 7.4% margin.

    – The opposition this time around I believe will be run by the OR Family Policy Council and the Protect Marriage Oregon PAC. The Christian Coalition has been in decline for a long time and while there have been efforts to restore it to its former glory of the 90s, that doesn't look to be happening. I am surprised that it was even a player in 2004. The PMO PAC is the same one that operated in 2004. They never terminated the PAC over all these years. However, if our measure qualifies, they will probably terminate it and just roll it into a new PAC. But it is essentially a lot of the same cast from 2004.

    – If memory serves, there was a lawsuit and it succeeded too well. In 2004 a state court judge actually held that clerks had to issue licenses to gay couples. I think that is what spurred the very quick and intense effort to amend the OR constitution that same year. Now that the OR Constitution prohibits gay marriage, there are no more state law claims that can be made, So I suppose BRO doesn't see much point in pursuing litigation in the state courts. Of course, it could make federal constitutional claims in OR state court, but eventually the federal courts would have the final say on that anyway.

    My question: Do you know how vote by mail affects turnout in mid-year elections like 2014? I would imagine that it generally increases voter turnout in all elections, but I don't think I've ever heard how much of a drop off there is when you go from a Presidential election to a mid-term in Oregon. Also, I'd be interested if you have ever seen any analysis of who drops off. In a traditional voting state, it is our voters who drop away – young people. Not sure about how it plays out in vote by mail state.

  • 65. Eric  |  November 25, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    John, your question comes across as a statement about the character of the maintainers of this site. For a free site, there is only so much the team can do. If you have new information please post it.

  • 66. Eric  |  November 25, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Bigotry, unlike sexual orientation, is not a protected class. Anyone is free to refuse service to the KKK. This has all been litigated before. If you want to change opinions, present a new argument.

  • 67. Eric  |  November 25, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Refusing service to bigots is not a "hate crime." A hate crime is a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, Congress has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.” Hate itself is not a crime.

  • 68. Mike in Baltimore  |  November 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    So Eric, spray painting swastikas on a Synagogue, or mosque, etc., and leaving the church next door unblemished, is not a hate crime?

    No one injured, just pure and simple vandalism.

    How about the person who is attacked while walking down the street? No murder, no arson, no vandalism of property. Just a 'simple' assault case.

    Scottsboro Boys ring a bell? No hate crime in that case? Just a 'simple rape' case?

    Hate is not a crime, but when a person acts on that hate (even if not going to the extent of murdering a person, committing arson and/or vandalism), THAT is a hate crime.

  • 69. Eric  |  November 25, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Every example you gave was a crime with an element of bias, which would make it a hate crime by Congress's definition.

  • 70. Dr. Z  |  November 25, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Plus which – the primary focus of this site is marriage equality.

  • 71. Dr. Z  |  November 25, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    1. Protect Marriage Oregon. PAC was set up by the Oregon CC.

    2. In 2004 the Multnomah Co. Commissioners decided to start issuing SSM licenses on March 3rd because Oregon had no law against SSM, and the 1997 Tanner v OHSU decision established that it was illegal under the Oregon Constitution to discriminate against LGBT. The district judge ruled in our favor, but then M36 passed 57%-43%. In March 2005 the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that the Multnomah Co. Commissioners exceeded their authority and invalidated over 4000 SSM (including ours.) In 2007-ish BRO mounted another unsuccessful legal challenge and concluded it would be counterproductive to continue to fight M36 in the courts.

    3. The Oregon Christian Coalition was nobody until the 2004 campaign, when the Multnomah Co. Commissioners handed them an issue to run on (assisted by highly inflammatory editorials in The Oregonian, the paper who gave Maggie Gallagher her start in journalism.) All the previous campaigns were waged by Lon Mabon and Scott Lively in the OCA. It was only after the OCA self-destructed (taking the state Republican Party with them) that space opened up for Tim Nashua and the Oregon CC.

    4. Turnout in Oregon has been pretty high with vote by mail. I'm not sure how it breaks on election day, but in WA (also VBM) the late returns tend to break toward younger voters, which explains the difference between the election night squeaker and the final not-that-close results. The most recent results in the Seattle city council and Seatac minimum wage measures bear that out.

  • 72. Dr. Z  |  November 25, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    And we are clearly looking to different sources for the results of the WA 2012 marriage equality campaign. I have the final results as 53.2% – 46.8%.

  • 73. Zack12  |  November 25, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    One of the biggest mistakes made during Prop 8 was by those running the campaign.
    I won't beat up on them too much but IMO,too many people acted like it had been won because it was a Blue state while forgetting there are very red parts to it.

  • 74. Mike in Baltimore  |  November 26, 2013 at 1:12 am

    ". . . with an element of bias. . . . "

    What was the crime in the Scottsboro Boys case, besides an accusation of rape? Was there murder? Arson? Vandalism? Bias AND hate were involved, but there was no arson or vandalism, and the state tried, through the court system, to murder the Scottsboro Boys.

  • 75. Mike in Maryland  |  November 26, 2013 at 1:23 am

    "Bigotry, unlike sexual orientation, is not a protected class."

    Exactly where is sexual orientation a protected class? Neither SCOTUS nor Congress has ruled that sexual orientation is a protected class.

    Oh, and please don't try to cite Lawrence v Texas, as SCOTUS didn't rule that sexual orientation is a protected class.

  • 76. Fluffyskunk  |  November 26, 2013 at 5:37 am

    To a neurotypical, the incomplete list of "murder, arson or vandalism" can imply other crimes besides those. We don't always exhaust all possibilities, much of what we say is implied in the subtext.

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  • 79. Mark  |  November 27, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    The vast majority of Ts are straight. There is no reason to think that they wouldn't be homophobic just as some "cis" straight people are. The notion that there is some special connection b/t LGBs and mostly-straight Ts is a myth that is nurtured for political reasons. I understand that you support "LGBT" but I don't think it helps LGBs or Ts.

    Beyond the garden variety straight homophobia, part of what you were encountering (and which you can see on vivid display on most trans blogs) is anger and frustration that comes from a sense of entitlement. The myth of LGBT tells us that LGBs and Ts are the same "people." :Therefore, LGBs "owe" it to Ts to subordinate their quest for civil rights and to do nothing that doesn't simultaneously benefit Ts.. When that doesn't happen in the real world, there is anger that the LGBs aren't behaving as the LGBT myth tells them they should. A lot of this hostility would vanish if we would just accept the reality that we are 2 different communities, with some common goals. We can and should be allies and friends, and work together on certain issues. But this co-opting of LGB identity, the sense of entitlement, and the demands that gays should feel guilty over pursuing marriage equality has to end.

  • 80. Dale  |  November 27, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Here are the final results from the WA Secretary of State. I am not sure where you were looking, but I suspect you saw a snapshot of the results as they were still trickling in. WA is not entirely vote-by-mail, but a lot of votes are by mail and it can take weeks to count them all. Because liberal Kings County comes in slowly, the pro-gay votes trickle in late and our margin gets better and better.
    http://vote.wa.gov/results/20121106/Referendum-Me

  • 81. Dale  |  November 27, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Thanks for that background info. It is very interesting and helpful. I am really sorry that your marriage was nullified. Hopefully, that is a wrong that can be rectified in the near future.

    Lon Mabon and OCA were very active when I was in law school and I developed an intense interest in the OCA. Even though it was pre-internet, I could follow the story on news databases that were available to students. I found the whole OCA story really strange and disturbing, because Mabon was not someone that anyone had heard of and both he and OCA seemed to come from out of nowhere and take off in a kind of populist wave. Then he formed affiliate branches in WA, ID, and NV and announced plans for a US Citizens Alliance. It seemed like some sort of unfolding nightmare, a mass movement that focused all its time and energy fighting gay people and which did so with unbelievable hostility.

    Sort of amazing the way OCA imploded, as did the WA and ID affiliates. The national one and the NV one never really got off the ground. Today, try as I might, I cannot find any recent news of Lon Mabon on the internet. Lots of stories about his old OCA work, but I can't find one recent article or interview, nor can I find him on Twitter or Youtube. From a major Christian conservative power player with a budding multistate empire to total obscurity. Quite a fall.

  • 82. John  |  November 27, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    How sad that you self centered pricks don't want to help intersexed or transsexuals. And Mark your theory that all T's are straight only shows what kind of brainless idiot you are. You must be a closet Republican.

  • 83. Eric  |  November 28, 2013 at 8:02 am

    How would you arrive at that ridiculous conclusion from my statement?

  • 84. Eric  |  November 28, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Sexual orientation is a protected class in Oregon. Where else would we be talking about?

  • 85. Mark  |  November 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    No one said that all Ts are straight. I said that the vast majority are, and that is true. Of course, some Ts are gay, lesbian or bi. But that is also true of every other racial, ethnic, religious, gender, and social group on Earth.

    Somebody should have let me know that I am a closeted Republican before I spent the last 12 years voting for progressive Democrats.

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