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Oregon Rights Group Backs Away From Ballot Initiative

Oregon Rights Group Backs Away From Ballot Initiative


Gay rights activists in Oregon will not try putting marriage equality up for a vote in 2012, saying the support it needs doesn't seem like a sure thing.

Basic Rights Oregon announced its decision not to pursue a ballot measure Wednesday after a long flirtation with the idea. A local newspaper had reported in August, for example, that the group would pursue a ballot measure, only to have executive director Jeana Frazzini publicly correct the article.

"Ballot measures in Oregon have historically been used to attack the gay and transgender community," the group's board wrote in a statement.
"Today, we are finally in the driver's seat, deciding when to go forward with a proactive ballot measure to achieve equality, instead of just fighting back. That presents our community with a tremendous opportunity and an immense responsibility."

Despite a three-year long "proactive community education campaign to build public support," Basic Rights Oregon officials said voters still don't seem ready. Before deciding, the group's leaders said, they had conducted a survey, held town halls, and talked with campaign professionals.

"The feedback we have overwhelmingly heard is that we must allow our education work to continue," the board wrote in a statement. "The progress we've made in increasing support for the freedom to marry will only get better in the next two years."

Basic Rights Oregon also blamed the "economic crisis" for the decision to wait, saying the expense of a successful statewide campaign seemed out of reach.

Voters in 2004 passed a constitutional ban on marriage equality. The state began allowing domestic partnerships in 2008.

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