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Oregon United for Marriage Formed to Secure the Freedom to Marry for All Oregonians

Posted on February 10, 2013

First step for November 2014 election

This morning, Oregon United for Marriage established a petition committee with the Secretary of State’s office with the goal of qualifying the “Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection Act” for the November 2014 election. The measure asks voters to make it legal for gay and lesbian couples to marry in Oregon.

“We have worked tirelessly to build support for marriage equality in Oregon, to engage our community and our allies—and now it’s time to take the next step in winning the freedom to marry for all Oregonians,” says Basic Rights Oregon Executive Director Jeana Frazzini. “Today, we are inviting our partners and supporters to take this next step with us: To sign the sponsorship petition, and commit to uniting Oregon in support of the freedom to marry for all Oregonians.”

In 2012, for the first time in history, voters affirmed the freedom to marry at the ballot box in Washington, Maine and Maryland. Voters in Minnesota successfully blocked a constitutional ban on marriage equality. And our country re-elected the first sitting President to endorse the freedom to marry, who then went on to highlight the issue in his inaugural speech.

In Oregon, the only way to amend the state constitution to include the freedom to marry is through a vote of the people. The paperwork filed today creates a sponsorship petition that triggers the ballot title process, the first of several steps to place a measure on the November 2014 ballot.

“Across the country, and right here in Oregon, we are on a journey of understanding. Our awareness has expanded dramatically in the last few years. As more and more people come to understand that committed couples, whether they are gay or straight, hope to marry for similar reasons, they’re coming to realize that this is much more than a political issue,” says former Governor Barbara Roberts. “This is about love, commitment and family.”

“In Oregon, there are certain truths we hold dear. We believe in freedom. In tolerance. In treating others as we would want to be treated ourselves. None of us would want to be told we can’t marry the person we love,” says Ramon Ramirez, president of PCUN Oregon’s Farmworker Union.

Ramirez is one of hundreds of Oregonians who will be signing the sponsorship petitions on Valentine’s Day, February 14. Volunteers in cities from Portland and Pendleton to Medford and Grants Pass will collect the required first sponsorship signatures to start the ballot title process.

There are fourteen community events statewide, in churches, community spaces, cafes, and student centers. Oregonians can RSVP to attend one of these events.

The day begins with a Faith Leaders for the Freedom to Marry breakfast in Washington County, where participants will sign the sponsorship petitions.

“Marriage matters because it’s how we define family,” says Rev. Tara Wilkins, executive director of Community of Welcoming Congregations and pastor of Bridgeport United Church of Christ. “Many clergy and religious traditions affirm the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples. It’s as basic as the Golden Rule: Treating others as one would want to be treated includes allowing civil marriage for gay couples who are truly committed to each other.”

Oregon United for Marriage’s ballot measure includes clear religious protections. Civil marriage for gay couples does not affect religious marriages, religious institutions or clergy in any way.  No religion would be forced to marry same-sex couples, or recognize same-sex marriages within the context of their religious beliefs.

Together with partners, Basic Rights Oregon has built a movement in Oregon that lifts up the courage and diversity of the community. Basic Rights Oregon and Oregon United for Marriage will continue this work to ensure that every loving couple can marry, regardless of gender, as well as strengthen relationships with communities of color, people of faith, and partners all across Oregon. “Now is the time to expand this conversation to unite Oregon in support of the freedom to marry. I’m excited about the opportunity for our stories to be told, our neighbors to be engaged, and new leaders to emerge,” Frazzini added.