Same-sex marriage backers hope to repeal ban in 2014

Jonathan J. Cooper / The Associated Press /

Published Feb 12, 2013 at 04:00AM

SALEM — Supporters of same-sex marriage said Monday they’re aiming at a vote next year to reverse Oregon’s ban on gay marriage, which was approved in 2004.

The state’s leading gay-rights group, Basic Rights Oregon, said it’s formed a campaign organization to get a constitutional amendment on the November 2014 ballot. The group will need to collect at least 116,000 valid signatures.

Voters in Oregon have become more inclined to support gay marriage since they approved the ban by a vote of nearly 57 percent to 43 percent, said Jeana Frazzini, Basic Rights Oregon’s executive director. Approval of gay marriage in other states and vocal public support from President Barack Obama have helped shift momentum with supporters of same-sex unions, Frazzini said.

“We’ve seen the state and the country on a journey of understanding that loving and committed same-sex couples want to marry, and they want to do so for reasons similar to any couple: for love and commitment and taking care of one another in good times and bad,” Frazzini.

Theresa Harke, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Family Council, said the group has been preparing to oppose such a measure and said both sides would have a difficult fight.

Only one man and one woman can procreate, Harke said, so that unique arrangement deserves a unique name. “Oftentimes we get away from what we’re actually talking about, which is the definition of marriage, as opposed to how we feel about same-sex couples and the rights of same-sex couples,” Harke said.

A 2007 Oregon law allows same-sex couples to register a domestic partnership that provides the same rights as marriage under state law. Last year, Oregon had 558 domestic partnerships through October, according to the Oregon Health Authority, which tracks vital statistics.