Oregon Equal Rights for Women Initiative, Measure 89 (2014)

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Measure 89
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Oregon Constitution
Referred by:Citizens
Topic:Civil Rights
Status:Approved Approveda
2014 measures
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November 4
Meausre 86 Defeatedd
Measure 87 Approveda
Measure 88 Defeatedd
Measure 89 Approveda
Measure 90 Defeatedd
Measure 91 Approveda
Measure 92 Defeatedd
Local measures
The Oregon Equal Rights for Women Initiative, Measure 89 was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Oregon as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure guaranteed that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the State of Oregon or by any political subdivision in this state on account of sex.” The initiative was also known as the Equal Rights Amendment.[1]

Election results

Below are the official, certified election results:

Oregon Measure 89
Approveda Yes 925,892 64.26%

Election results via: Oregon Secretary of State

Text of measure

Ballot title

The certified ballot title read as follows:

Amends Constitution: State/political subdivision shall not deny or abridge equality of rights on account of sex

Result of "Yes" Vote: "Yes" vote amends state constitution, prohibits state and any political subdivision from denying or abridging equality of rights under the law on account of sex.

Result of "No" Vote: "No" vote retains current prohibition on laws granting/denying privileges or immunities on account of sex, unless justified by specific biological differences between men/women.

Summary: Under Article I, section 20, of the Oregon Constitution, laws granting privileges or immunities must apply equally to all persons. The Oregon Supreme Court has held that that provision prohibits laws treating people differently based on sex unless justified by specific biological differences. No current provision in the constitution expressly states that prohibition. Measure amends Article I by creating new section 46, which provides that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the state or any political subdivision on account of sex. Measure authorizes legislature to enforce that provision by appropriate legislation. Measure provides that nothing in section 46 "shall diminish a right otherwise available to persons under section 20 of this Article or any other provision of this Constitution."[1][2]

Attorney General of Oregon

Constitutional changes

The initiative amended Article I of the Oregon Constitution by adding a new section to it. The section read as follows:[3]

SECTION 46. (1) Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the State of Oregon or by any political subdivision in this state on account of sex.

(2) The Legislative Assembly shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this section.

(3) Nothing in this section shall diminish a right otherwise available to persons under section 20 of this Article or any other provision of this Constitution.[2]


A federal equal rights amendment was first proposed by the National Women's Party in 1923. The strongest efforts to attempt to pass such an amendment were made in the 1960s and 1970s. The National Organization of Women (NOW) and other women's rights activist groups strongly supported an amendment ending legal discrimination based on sex. In 1970, the House approved the equal rights amendment, and the Senate followed in 1972. By 1973, 30 of the necessary 38 states had ratified the amendment. The amendment, however, did not pass. Opposition rose against the measure from many perspectives. Some argued against it in favor of traditional roles for women in society, while others claimed it would remove laws that protect women, like sexual assault laws and alimony. The number of states ratifying the amendment slowed drastically, and several states even repealed their own approval of the amendment. By 1982, the amendment remained three states short of approval.[4]

While the federal effort did not succeed, equal rights amendments were added to 20 state constitutions between 1879 and 1998. These state measures guaranteed varying degrees of equality.[5]



The measure was primarily sponsored by Vote ERA.[6]


Former officials


  • Vote ERA


  • Leanne DiLorenzo
  • John DiLorenzo
  • Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes
  • John Nichols, journalist at The Nation[8]

OR2014 Vote ERA.PNG


Vote ERA provided the following arguments on their campaign website:

Our Oregon Constitution was written in 1857 and ratified in 1859.

Article I, Section 20 (Equality of privileges and immunities of citizens. No law shall be passed granting to any citizen or class of citizens privileges, or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens.) —has not changed.

  • Under Oregon's original constitution women could not vote, own property, work the same number of hours as men or more under this same part of our constitution. This is why case law is not enough to protect women from sex discrimination.
  • Why would women want to be vulnerable to interpretations by different judges over time for their foundational equality in our Oregon Constitution? Study the past-protect the future.
  • While laws have passed to better protect girls and women we must still address sex discrimination.
  • Having the ERA in the Oregon Constitution means girls and women will finally have express equality in our constitution.
  • In our statewide polling 82% of Oregonians across age, sex, race, and political party said they want the ERA in our Oregon Constitution. Equality for all in our Oregon Constitution is a principle Oregonians believe in.
  • Girls and women will not have to be reliant upon laws that can be repealed and future judges interpretations for their protection against sex discrimination. With your help girls and women will be protected in the Oregon Constitution.[9][2]

—Vote ERA

Nobody can predict who our Supreme Court justices will be in the future. Without equality for women expressly written into the Oregon Constitution, Oregon women and girls will always be at risk of losing the gains they have made. The Hewitt opinion provides excellent precedent, but it does not provide for full equality based on sex in the Oregon Constitution; only a constitutional amendment can do that. Even The Register-Guard editorial admits that the ACLU of Oregon noted that an ERA “could insure against Oregon Supreme Court decisions narrowing the scope of protections under Section 20.”[2]

—Nancy Campbell[7]

Campaign contributions

The Vote Equal Rights Amendment for Women Committee was the main committee registered in support of this initiative. The following totals were accurate as of December 1, 2014.[10] A political action committee (PAC) to support the amendment was formed on July 3, 2014, which was called Women's Constitutional Equality PAC.[11][12]

Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $658,101.10
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $0

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Vote Equal Rights Amendment for Women Committee $527,067.59 $528,147.83
Women's Constitutional Equality PAC $131,033.51 $132,022.57
Total $658,101.10 $660,170.40

Top 5 contributors:

Donor Amount
John DiLorenzo $290,300.00
Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo $136,727.08
The Feminist Majority Foundation $28,961.00
Rick Miller $25,000.00
Women's Constitutional Equality PAC $23,299.45


The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon supported a federal equal rights amendment but not one at the state level. They, and other critics of the measure, argued that an Oregon Supreme Court ruling already provided strong protection against gender-based discrimination beyond current federal laws. Some expressed concern that such an amendment would lead judges to conclude that voters value protections against gender discrimination more than other discrimination factors like race, religion or sexual orientation.[13]



The Oregon League of Women Voter's listed the following as arguments in opposition to Measure 89:[15]

  • This amendment is not necessary. The rights of all women and men are already protected by Article I, Section 20, of the Oregon Constitution, along with the Oregon Supreme Court's application of the highest standard of strict scrutiny to cases involving unequal treatment on account of sex.
  • Amendments to the Oregon Bill of Rights should only be made if they would add protections that are not already guaranteed. Constitutional changes should either advance rights that are not already protected or end an injustice permitted under current law. This state ERA does neither.
  • Protecting rights in a piecemeal fashion, especially for purely symbolic effect, may mean that groups with less money and political clout will be left out. The fundamental liberties guaranteed by the Oregon Bill of Rights will be most secure if they rights of all individuals and classes of persons receive the same strong protections.
  • Passage of the Equal Rights Amendment may not automatically guarantee equal rights for men and women anymore than the Constitution does now. The Oregon Supreme Court would ultimately have to determine the ERA's meaning.


Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Oregon ballot measures, 2014


  • The World said,
Nevertheless, it’s not merely a symbolic measure. Adding an equal rights amendment to Oregon’s constitution will ensure the courts, state laws and policies that discriminate on the basis of sex are subjected to the same “strict scrutiny” as those that discriminate on the basis of race and national origin, instead of the “intermediate scrutiny” that is currently applied. As has happened to some extent with civil rights protections for race, it’s hoped that constitutional equal-rights language will cause justice to roll down into all areas of life.[2]

The World[16]

  • The Skanner said,
Some people say Oregon doesn’t need an Equal Rights Amendment for women; at the same time, women are at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, with lower pay, less political representation and few corner offices in the corporate sector. Four retired state Supreme Court justices have made an open appeal for passage of this measure. We vote YES.[2]


  • The Statesman Journal said,
At first, the idea of an Equal Rights Amendment for Oregon seems quaint. Doesn't the Oregon Constitution, which is among the nation's most progressive as far as individual rights and liberties, already ban discrimination against women?


And that is the most basic of reasons why Oregon voters have a responsibility to approve Measure 89 in Tuesday's election.[2]

Statesman Journal[18]


  • The Mail Tribune said,
Discrimination on the basis of gender is deplorable and never justified, and preventing it is an important goal. If we thought Ballot Measure 89 was needed to do that we would support it. But the Oregon Constitution already prohibits all kinds of discrimination.[2]

Mail Tribune[19]

  • The Oregonian said,
We could not support with more enthusiasm the goal of Measure 89's sponsors, which is to prevent gender-based discrimination. Not everything done in pursuit of a worthy goal is a good idea, however, and that's the case here. Affixing an equal rights amendment to the state Constitution would be unnecessary, as the Constitution already provides such protections...To amend the Constitution purely for symbolic reasons is not only to amend it lightly, but also to invite action by those who would do likewise.[2]


  • The Albany Democrat-Herald said,
We stand steadfast against gender-based discrimination. And we have no doubt that the backers of Measure 89 have nothing but the best intentions.

But the Oregon constitution should be more than just a harbor for good intentions. And the fact of the matter is that the guarantees included in Measure 89 already are in place in the constitution, which includes a clause prohibiting gender-based discrimination...We don’t for a moment recommend a vote against Measure 89 because we don’t believe women should have equal rights. But we do recommend a vote against Measure 89 because we think the bar for amending the constitution should be set higher. [2]

Albany Democrat-Herald[21]


See also: Polls, 2014 ballot measures

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

An automated telephone interview poll conducted from February 22 to 24, 2013, by Public Policy Polling found that 80 percent of respondents believed that equal rights for men and women should be included in the Oregon Constitution. Twelve percent of respondents did not and 8 percent were unsure. The same poll further found that 75 percent of respondents would support a 2014 ballot measure to amend the constitution, while 16 percent would oppose and 10 percent were unsure. The respondents were 45 percent Democrats, 35 percent Republican and 20 percent independent or other. Women were 54 percent of the respondents and men 46 percent.[22][23]

All of the questions and results of the survey can be read here.

Oregon Equal Rights for Women Initiative (2014)
Poll Support OpposeUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Polling
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Path to the ballot

Oregon Constitution
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See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Oregon & Amending the Oregon Constitution

The Oregon Secretary of State approved the measure for circulation on December 20, 2013. Supporters were required to collect a minimum of 116,284 valid signatures by July 3, 2014. The petitioners submitted 143,463 unverified signatures on May 23, 2014. On June 13, 2014, the secretary of state's office had verified that 100,357 of the signatures were valid. The petitioners then had until the final July deadline to gather the remaining necessary signatures. They submitted a second batch of 28,707 signatures on June 17, 2014. The secretary of state finished verifying signatures to place this measure on the ballot on June 20, 2014, when 118,388 signatures were found to be valid. This meant 71.78 percent of the signatures submitted were valid.[1]

Similar measures

See also

Suggest a link

External links

Additional reading


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Oregon Secretary of State, “Equal Rights Amendment For Women to be Equal to Men," accessed on June 23, 2014
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  3. Oregon Secretary of State, "Complete text of proposed initiative 34," October 25, 2013
  4. U.S. History.org, "57c. The Equal Rights Amendment," accessed June 23, 2014
  5. CRS Report for Congress, "Equal Rights Amendments: State Provisions," August 23, 2004
  6. Vote ERA website, "Vote YES on ERA!," accessed June 23, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 Central Oregon Coast NOW, "Oregon Should Guard Women’s Rights With ERA," March 30, 2014
  8. The Nation, "The Democratic Vistas of 2014: Five Reforms to Make Our Politics Matter," January 1, 2014
  9. Vote ERA, "Research," accessed June 23, 2014
  10. Oregon Secretary of State: ORESTAR, "Measure 89 Campaign Finance Activity," accessed December 12, 2014
  11. Oregon Secretary of State, "Statement of Organization for Political Action Committee: Women's Constitutional Equality PAC," accessed July 30, 2014
  12. Oregon Secretary of State, "Statement of Organization for Petition Committee: Vote Equal Rights Amendment for Women Committee," accessed December 12, 2014
  13. Associated Press, "Equal-rights amendment divides Oregon lawmakers," March 20, 2013
  14. Oregon Catalyst, "Vote NO on Ballot Measure 89," October 12, 2014
  15. Oregon League of Women Voters, "Oregon Voters' Guide November 4, 2014," accessed October 31, 2014
  16. The World, "Vote yes on equal rights amendment," October 2, 2014
  17. Skanner, "The Skanner News Elections Endorsements: Support These Measures on the Nov. 4 Ballot," October 16, 2014
  18. Statesman Journal, "Measre 89: Oregon needs its own ERA," October 30, 2014
  19. Mail Tribune, "Our View: Equal rights measure is unnecessary," October 3, 2014
  20. Oregonian, "Measure 89 is well-intended but unecessary: Editorial endorsement," September 13, 2014
  21. Albany Democrat-Herald, "Editorial: Equal-rights ballot measure is simply unnecessary," October 18, 2014
  22. Public Policy Polling, "Oregon Survey Results," February 22-24, 2013
  23. Public Policy Polling, "Voters support Equal Rights Amendment to Oregon Constitution," February 25, 2013