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Oregon recall over same-sex marriage dies

Oregon recall over same-sex marriage dies

A recall petition drive has failed against two Multnomah County, Ore., commissioners who approved the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples last March. Chairwoman Diane Linn and fellow commissioner Lisa Naito both said they were relieved the petition drive, led by the Christian Coalition, missed the Monday deadline for submitting the 37,000 signatures required to place a recall on the ballot. "It would have been costly and time-consuming," Linn said of a recall vote, estimating it would have cost taxpayers at least $300,000. "We can now get on with the important issues of the day--funding for schools, library service, and [fighting] cuts to our most vulnerable citizens." John Belgarde, executive director of the Christian Coalition, said about 35,000 signatures had been gathered by Monday. He blamed secretary of state Bill Bradbury for a rules change that reduced the number of valid signatures gathered. "During the last week of the campaign, we kind of had to throw all of our strategies out the door," Belgarde said during a brief news conference on Monday. But John Lindback, the state elections director, said the rule has been in effect since 2002. "It seemed to come as a surprise to them," Lindback said. The rule requires petition gatherers to date the petitions after they sign them as witnesses to the signatures they have collected. "When we first adopted the rule in 2002, it seemed fairly simple and not onerous--you not only sign it but date it," Lindback said. The Christian Coalition plans to mount another petition drive to refile for recall, said John Kauffman, Multnomah County elections director. But it was not clear whether the coalition would seek to recall all four commissioners who voted to approve same-sex marriages last March or just target Linn and Commissioner Serena Cruz. Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey would be recalled only until she begins a new term of office in January, Kauffman said. The same holds true for Naito, assuming she wins her runoff race in November. All four commissioners voted to change the county policy on gay marriage after a legal review determined it was unconstitutional to deny issuing licenses to same-sex couples. The policy was immediately challenged, and a judge ordered the county to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples until the Oregon legislature can consider the issue or the Oregon supreme court rules on it.

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