A lawsuit was not part of the plan.
In the national strategy to legalize same-sex marriage, liberal Oregon had been earmarked as a state that could be counted on to overturn a constitutional ban on gay marriage with a ballot measure in 2014.
Since summer, Oregon United for Marriage volunteers and paid canvassers have conducted a well-orchestrated campaign, collecting more than 100,000 voter signatures to repeal 2004’s Measure 36 on the November 2014 ballot.
“Oregon will be the first state to amend [its] constitution in favor of the freedom to marry,” says Thomas Wheatley, director of organizing for the national Freedom to Marry campaign.
National organizers say that in states where voters might not support same-sex marriage, filing lawsuits is a better option than risking defeat at the polls.
So when two Portland lawyers (as first reported on wweek.com) filed a federal lawsuit Oct. 15 to overturn Measure 36, they highlighted the fissure in the gay community between those who want to earn the right to marry through a popular vote and those who think civil rights shouldn’t be legislated.
Publicly, the two factions are playing nice. Privately, they’re a little less circumspect. Although they agree the ultimate goal is to gain marriage rights and the two approaches can peacefully coexist, each side says its strategy will accomplish marriage equality in Oregon more quickly and is the right way to go.
Confused? Here’s a cheat sheet: