Why Gay Marriage Won't Be on Oregon's 2012 Ballot

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Statewide LGBT group Basic Rights Oregon just announced that, after a two year campaign, they will not be putting gay marriage on Oregon's ballot in 2012. Instead, they'll aim toward getting the measure on the ballot in 2014.

From their statement:

After careful consideration and extensive community input, Basic Rights Oregon’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to extend our public education campaign and continue to build public support. We will not pursue a ballot measure on marriage in 2012.

Sigh. Waiting for marriage.
  • Sigh. Waiting for marriage.

I blogged last week about the politics behind the gay marriage decision. Basically, despite active campaigning, the numbers are still against gay marriage in Oregon. Sadly, after two years of knocking on doors, running heartfelt TV ads, and gathering steam from national wins, the numbers still don’t show gay marriage could safely win in Oregon.
More than 100 people packed into the Q Center on North Mississippi last Sunday, November 6, for one of BRO’s town halls on the issue. The news wasn’t good. Though the conversational campaign has upped voter support in Oregon nine percent in 18 months (whoa), polling still shows only about 48 percent of Oregonians back gay marriage.
“All the political campaigners are really clear with us,” Thomas Wheatley, BRO’s organizing director told the crowd. “We’ve got to have a big buffer of support, something that can withstand their negative ads.”

As a case in point, in California in 2008, the anti-gay marriage measure Proposition 8 was trailing by three percentage points eight weeks before election day. But the measure surged to victory thanks to a full-court press of ads from gay-marriage opponents.

That’s one thing BRO can count on anytime they decide to push for gay marriage: a big, expensive, ugly battle. Asked about a ballot measure back in September, Teresa Lucas of the conservative Oregon Family Council said, “If we have to fight, we’re going to fight hard." In 2004, anti-gay-marriage groups won a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage with 57 percent of the vote, using ads that warned “gay and lesbian sex will be taught in public schools.”

BRO estimates a 2012 campaign will cost $10 million—which they’d need to raise this winter (in this recession). Getting on the presidential ballot in the fall means getting a boost from young voters and Democrats, but BRO also fears a wave of conservative backlash.

“In these poor economic times, without the hope of 2008, we think young people and people who are our core supporters will not have the same turnout,” said Wheatley.

Looks like Oregon’s 14,979 same-sex couples really have to wait another two years to get the rights of full citizens.

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