Monday, April 08, 2013

Oregon Marriage Equality Ballot Fight On Track For 2014

Marriage equality activists in Oregon announced in February that they intended to start the process to amend their state's constitution to allow same-sex couples to get married. Apparently they are circulating two different potential ballot measures, but the Attorney General has decided to give both of them the same title and summary, namely:

Amends Constitution: Recognizes marriage between couples of same gender; protects clergy/religious institutions' refusal to perform marriages.

The polling for passage of a marriage equality initiative in Oregon looks relatively encouraging. Last summer, polling showed public opinion closely split (45-46) on marriage equality but more recent polls show Oregonians (like the majority of Americans) support marriage equality. Oregon would be the first state to affirmatively overturn at the ballot box a previously passed "mini-DOMA," which would be significant because more than 30 states have done so in the last decade.

The decision to move forward with the ballot fight may be complicated by the Supreme Court's upcoming late June decision in the Hollingsworth v. Perry case deciding the (un)constitutionality of California's Proposition 8. If the court leaves Proposition 8 legally intact (an unlikely outcome) or the status of marriage equality subject to many more years of litigation (a not unlikely possibility) then there will be intense pressure in California to return to the ballot in 2014 to repeal Proposition 8 and legalize marriage equality in the nation's largest state (again).

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