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Gay Discrimination Efforts In Oregon

Just as LGBTQ activists are celebrating Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum’s decision to not defend Oregon’s gay marriage ban and celebrating Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto of that state’s anti-gay discrimination bill, along comes the reminder that the Oregon Family Council wants to throw a little cold water on the gey celebration.

More precisely, OFC is the primary sponsor of an initiative that wants to dampen any future gay weddings in Oregon by allowing businesses to refuse “supporting same-sex ceremonies in violation of deeply held religious beliefs.” 

OFC filed the petition in November 2013, and the wording is similar to that of the failed Arizona law, according to Peter Zuckerman of Oregon United for Marriage (OUM).

Zuckerman says the language of the “Protect Religious Freedom Initiative” is pretty broadly worded and affects anyone associated with a gay wedding. “Does that mean an airline can reject my mom who is flying to see me get married?” he asks.

Zuckerman says, “Look at what it actually does — deny commercial services to people because of who they are and who they love.” He says Oregon has faced 35 anti-gay ballot measures, which is more than any other state, and OUM is gearing up for a fight.

OFC’s Friends of Religious Freedom said when it filed its initiative in November that “Religious freedom upholds stability in a diverse society.”

“I’m a huge supporter of religious freedom,” Zuckerman says, and “freedom means freedom for everyone.”

OUM has gathered 160,000 signatures, more than enough to get a pro-gay marriage measure on the November ballot, but Zuckerman says the group is waiting to file until the courts make a decision on the current gay marriage ban. 

Given the Oregon Department of Justice will not defend the ban, calling it unconstitutional, Zuckerman says “the judge is very likely to rule in our favor, but it’s hard to say when and what it will look like — lawsuits are full of twists and turns.” But he says with recent polls showing that 55 percent of Oregonians support gay marriage, OUM is very optimistic. 

OUM’s statewide tour for Freedom to Marry will be educating community members on why same-sex marriage matters and about the discrimination measure. The event is 5 pm Thursday, March 6, at 120 W Broadway in Eugene, and 6 pm Friday, March 7, at the First United Methodist Church, 1165 NW Monroe Ave. in Corvallis. Go to http://wkly.ws/1p6 for more info.