The weeks-long window of opportunity that allowed Oregon to become the gay marriage mecca of America this Spring ended when politicians decided to wait for a court ruling on the topic. Multnomah County froze its practice of issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals. Though the issue is still awaiting a legal decision, another branch of the government will take action on it in November.
The Oregonian has the story.
The initiative that would ban same-sex marriage qualified Monday for the fall ballot, setting the stage for another hot battle in the culture war of Oregon.
The initiative would amend the state constitution to define marriage as only between one man and one woman, jeopardizing more than 3,000 marriages between same-sex couples registered in Multnomah County earlier this year.
The Defense of Marriage Coalition collected more than 240,000 signatures, thought to be a record, and had 104,000 more valid ones than it needed to join medical malpractice, workers' compensation, property compensation and state forests among the issues on the Nov. 2 ballot.
Despite its reputation for relative liberalism in regard to homosexuality, Oregon was a hotbed of anti-gay action during the 1980s until the mid '90s. The Oregon Citizens Alliance regularly filed ballot iniatives seeking to curb what it considered damage to society by homosexuals.
Oregon's measure is the latest in a series of initiatives in the past 16 years to address gay rights. Voters in 2000 rejected an Oregon Citizens Alliance measure to bar schools from promoting homosexuality. The group also sponsored broader anti-gay rights measures in 1988, 1992 and 1994. The first passed but was declared unconstitutional in court. The other two failed.
The group fell upon hard times later and has been largely dormant as its leader, Lon Mabon seeks to evade the sanctions imposed in lawsuits he lost. The current anti-gay activists are not necessarily associated with the OCA. However, as a state without a Defense of Marriage Act, Oregon is an ideal place to test the waters in regard to gay unions. Polls show that most Oregonians oppose marrying gays, as is true in the rest of the states. However, politicians in the metropolitan Portland area have been surprisingly sympathetic. Four of the five Multnomah County commissioners favored issuing marriage licenses to gays. Support of gay unions from heterosexual citizens and businesses is common. The ballot measure will be a barometer of how many people throughout the state share the live and let live attitude of many pols and citizens in the state's largest city.