Originally published on Advocate.com November 02 2009 7:35 PM ET
Basic Rights Oregon, the state’s largest gay rights group, has launched a grassroots educational campaign as a primary step to repeal the state’s five-year-old constitutional amendment banning marriage rights for same-sex couples.
The group is sponsoring a community outreach effort that encourages broad public dialogue on marriage rights in communities, churches, and civic organizations. “This is a concerted, smart effort to get people to talk to their friends, their neighbors, and their coworkers," said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry. "It’s a major public education effort that will play out over the coming months -- and years.” Wolfson was invited by Basic Rights Oregon to speak Monday at a kickoff event at Portland State University, followed by similar events in Bend and Eugene later in the week.
The Oregonian reports that BRO may support a 2012 repeal of Ballot Measure 36, one of 11 state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage that passed in 2004. Oregon's measure passed with 57% of voters in support.
In 2007 the Oregon state legislature established a domestic-partnership registry and passed antidiscrimination laws in employment, housing, and public facilities based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The statewide campaign kicks off on the eve of multiple battles over the rights of same-sex couples across the country. In Maine, voters will decide whether to uphold a law passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. John E. Baldacci in May that would legalize same-sex marriage (implementation of the law was delayed pending ballot results), while Washington state voters will be asked to accept or reject a recent expansion of the state’s domestic-partnership law that grants marriage-like rights to registered gay and lesbian couples.