Joe Mirabella

Oregon Abandons Marriage Equality Initiative for 2012

Filed By Joe Mirabella | November 10, 2011 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: ballot box, Basic Rights Oregon, gay marriage, marriage equality, Oregon, same-sex marriage

Oregon was poised to be the first state to overturn an anti-marriage equality state constitutional amendment in 2012. BasicRightsOregon.jpgBasic Rights Oregon sent an email to supporters announcing their plan to wait until they are ready to win:

Dear Supporter,

I'm writing you today with a big announcement. I share this with a heavy heart, but also with lots of hope for the future.

I've spoken with countless supporters this week as we traveled the state, holding town halls to talk about when and how to win the freedom to marry. So many of you have worked long and hard to prepare for a potential ballot measure campaign. But as I spoke with you, person after person made it clear you want us to continue the education work we are doing - and not to move forward into a political fight until we are ready to win.

After careful consideration and extensive community input, our Board of Directors voted unanimously to extend our public education campaign so we can continue to build public support as we prepare for a ballot measure campaign. We will not pursue a ballot measure on marriage in 2012.

The rest of the letter and more after the break.

Many of us feel the sting every day of being excluded from marriage. Each day that we are denied the opportunity to be legally married to the person we love is painful. But it would be even more painful to make the choice to put our rights up for a public vote and lose again. A second loss at the ballot on the issue of marriage equality would be devastating, especially for LGBT Oregonians in small towns and rural areas, and for our youth. And it would be devastating to our ability to bring this to yet another public vote in the near future.

Our Board has made a tough decision, but it's a wise one, which I am forwarding on to you below.

We will keep fighting. We will keep sharing our stories. We will keep coming out of the closet. We will keep making progress day in and day out.

And when we decide - on our community's timeline and terms - that we are ready for another public vote on marriage, we will move forward with a ballot measure campaign.

This struggle continues. I challenge all of us to join together in moving equality forward through everyday acts of bravery and honesty as we come out and tell our stories to friends and neighbors.

In Solidarity,
Jeana Frazzini
Executive Director
Basic Rights Oregon

Basic Rights Oregon funded a three week television comercial blitz this summer as part of their campaign to win marriage. They hoped to sway public opinion far enough in their favor that they could win a reversal of Oregon's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.


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Delays would be a more accurate title. BRO nor the LGBT community in Oregon has abandoned the effort. Thanks.

I just worry about the use of the word "abandon" at this point (even though the posting itself does clarify the intent to move forward in the future).

Thanks again.

Point well taken. Equality Oregon hopes to sway public support in their direction for a 2014 ballot initiative. No doubt that will require years of work. I did not mean to imply that BRO was giving up entirely. They certainly are not.

I take offense to this title as well… You can change it, and you should.

BRO did something very unique in the GLBT community it listened to those in the community, learning the risks of putting this on the ballot too soon. Your headline implies that BRO was going to the ballot... that's not correct; from the start BRO stated that only if the timing was right and we were likely to win would this go to the voters. Oregon is very unique; we cannot make this change via the courts or the legislature due to a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as one-man-one-woman. We will only get ONE chance to overturn this... a lot is at risk, timing has to be right.

My partner and I have been together over 25 years; we were married in Oregon during a few weeks that it was legal. The Oregon Supreme Court nullified our marriage (all of them from that period). We now have some protections as registered domestic partners thanks to our legislature.

This was a difficult but smart decision. A decision that all advocates involved in the GLBT marriage movement can learn from. Let’s not have another California, let’s WIN the right to marriage in under our own terms. The CAUSE is Right, the MESSAGE is RIGHT, the TIMING was WRONG. That would make a much better headline. Sub-title: BRO listens to the GLBT community.

Best regards,

Steven Lien – CEO / Owner
Under U4 Men Retail Stores
Portland – Bridgeport Village - Seattle