Committed couples, whether they are gay or straight, hope to marry for similar reasons – to make that unique lifetime promise to share the joys and sorrows that life brings. But while these values are universal, thousands of gay and lesbian Oregonians are denied the opportunity to marry the person they love.
In 2004, Oregon voters passed Measure 36, which amended the state constitution to specifically exclude gay and lesbian couples from marriage. And the federal Defense of Marriage Act prevents legal same sex marriages performed in other states from being recognized in Oregon.
The only way to achieve the freedom to marry in Oregon is through a ballot initiative. It is not a question of if, but when.
Over the last three years, Basic Rights Oregon and allies have worked to engage Oregonians in conversations about why marriage matters. This work is opening hearts and changing minds. Every day more and more Oregonians are deciding that treating others as they wish to be treated includes allowing civil marriage for all caring and committed couples.
Meanwhile, public support for the freedom to marry has grown—and continues to grow—all across the nation. It’s exciting to be on verge of such momentous change. Each state has its own path, and each legislative or court victory brings us all closer to the day when all caring and committed couples have the freedom to marry the person they love.
Ballot measures in Oregon have historically been used to attack the gay and transgender community. This time, advocates of freedom and equality are in the driver’s seat, deciding when to go forward with a proactive ballot measure, instead of just fighting back. That presents a tremendous opportunity and an immense responsibility to move forward when the time is right.
Basic Rights Oregon and other allies are traveling the state in 2012 to share our stories of love and commitment with Oregonians across the state—as we build a majority for marriage!