Oregon Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (2014)

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The Oregon Same-Sex Marriage Amendment, Initiative 8 did not make the November 4, 2014 statewide ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment.[1]

The measure would have recognized marriage between same sex couples and confirmed the already-existing right of a religious institution or clergy to refuse to perform such marriages.[2]

Jeana Frazzini, Walter Knutsonand and Lonnie Read of Basic Rights Oregon filed the initiative as the “Right to Marry and Religious Protection Initiative,” a title that was approved.[1]

On May 19, 2014, Judge Michael McShane of the Oregon District Court ruled in Geiger v. Kitzhaber. The judged overturned the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Amy Ruiz of Oregon United for Marriage said, "We are confident that the freedom to marry is secure in Oregon and that we do not need to move forward with the ballot measure. It is time to celebrate this victory for Oregon." Despite have more than enough estimated signatures, the ballot measure campaign was ended following the judge's ruling.[3]

Text of measure

Ballot summary

The certified title read as follows:[2]

Amends constitution: Recognizes marriage between couples of dame gender; protects clergy/religious institutions’ refusal to perform marriages.

Result of “Yes” Vote: “Yes” vote amends constitution; recognizes the right of same-gender couples to marry; protects right of clergy and religious institutions to refuse to perform marriages.

Result of “No” Vote: “No” vote retains existing constitutional ban on marriage of same-gender couples; retains constitutional provision that recognizes only marriage between one man and one woman.

Summary: Oregon Constitution currently bands marriage between couples of the same gender by providing that only marriage between one man and one woman is valid or legally recognized. Oregon statutes currently limit the right to marriage based on age, capacity to consent, marital status, and degree of kinship. Measure amends Constitution to recognize the right of couples of the same gender to marry provided they meet statutory qualifications. Measure requires state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on the same basis as opposite-sex couples. Measure provides that marriages between same-sex couples are subject to the same laws that govern marriages between opposite-sex couples. Measure provides the existing right of religious institutions and clergy to refuse to perform a marriage. Other provisions. [4]

Constitutional changes

If Initiative 8 made the ballot and was approved, the measure would have amended Section 5a of Article XV of the Constitution of Oregon to read:[1]

Article XV, section 5(a). Policy regarding marriage. It is the policy of Oregon, and its political subdivisions, that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage. It is the policy of the State of Oregon to recognize and protect the right to marry, while also preserving and protecting the right of religious institutions and clergy to refuse to perform a marriage.


In the 2012 general election, measures in several states legalizing same-sex marriage were approved and one measure banning it was defeated. These victories for advocates of same-sex marriage inspired discussions immediately following the election about pursuing efforts to legalize the practice in a number of other states. Oregon was one such state, and, if the measure got to the ballot in 2014, it would have been the first attempt to legalize same-sex marriage in the state constitution after voters had already elected to ban it in a previous amendment. Members of the Oregon legislature were considering sending the measure to the ballot as a legislative referral, but, reportedly, believe the effort had a higher chance of being successful if it went before voters via citizen initiative. House Majority Leader Tina Kotek (D-44) said, "There are no shortcuts in this debate, a grass-roots, citizen-led effort is the way to go."[5]

Before Judge Michael McShane's May 2014 ruling, Oregon’s constitution defined marriage as between one man and one woman and as the only valid form of marriage. Voters approved of this declaration in Measure 36 of 2004. Oregon did, at the time, recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries starting on October 18, 2013. The Attorney General’s office stated that not recognizing marriages conducted in other jurisdictions “Would likely violate the federal Constitution.”[6]


The campaign in support of the measure was led by Basic Rights Oregon and Oregon United for Marriage.[7][8]

The Portland Timbers, Thorns and Trail Blazers all simultaneously announced their support for the same-sex marriage ballot campaign making them the first professional sports teams in the United States to do so.[9]



Former officials

  • Former Governor Barbara Roberts (D)[10]
  • Former Secretary of State Norma Paulus (R)[11]
  • Former Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer (R)
  • Former Treasurer Bill Rutherford (R)[13]
  • Former U.S. Sen. Bob Packwood (R)
  • Former New Zealand Ambassador Bill McCormick (R)


Campaign contributions

  • Freedom to Marry, a national group same-sex rights advocacy group, announced that it contributed $250,000 towards Basic Rights Oregon's campaign. Marc Solomon, Freedom to Marry's campaign director, said, "Basic Rights Oregon has done an incredible job of getting ready to go on the ballot initiative. They’ve been doing this great work — trying out new ideas and television ads, direct mail, knocking on doors and talking to voters. So we’re proud to make this investment."[19]
  • Nike contributed $280,000 to Basic Rights Oregon and established the Nike Equality PAC. Mary Remuzzi, a spokesperson for Nike, noted that the firm would work with the campaign to necessitate that their donation is utilized "only [to] support efforts related to marriage equality versus other political issues or ballot measure campaigns." Mike Marshall of the Oregon United for Marriage Committee did not express concern about the company's oversight. He said, "It's the start of a beautiful relationship."[17]


  • Oregon Family Council[20]

Protect Religious Freedom Initiative

The Oregon Family Council filed a state ballot initiative on November 21, 2013. The organization titled the measure as the "Protect Religious Freedom Initiative." The measure was "intended to exempt a person from supporting same-sex ceremonies in violation of deeply held religious beliefs."[21]

The council stated that, while ideologically opposed, their "primary concern" was not the initiative to legalize same-sex marriage in Oregon, but rather their own initiative. The two initiatives shared a historical context, however. Tim Nashif, who led the successful attempt to constitutionally prohibit same-sex marriage in 2004 and served on the board of the Oregon Family Council, stated that political events had "taken the wind out of the sails of those who believe marriage is between one man and one woman." Therefore, the "next big battle is going to be religious liberties in Oregon.”[20]


See also: Polls, 2014 ballot measures
Oregon Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (2014)
Poll Support Oppose or UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
DHM Research
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

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Oregon

Jeana Frazzini, Walter Knutson and Lonnie Read of "Basic Rights Oregon" filed the "Right to Marry and Religious Protection Initiative" on February 27, 2013 in the Office of the Secretary of State. The Office of the Secretary of State received a certified ballot title from the Attorney General on April 5, 2013.[5]

Jack Louman and Teresa Harke of the Oregon Family Council filed a petition to review the measure language for the proposed initiative by the Oregon Supreme Court, an ability granted by ORS § 250.085 (1). The Oregon Supreme Court dismissed their petition due to untimeliness. Louman and Harke did not “notify the Secretary of State in writing that the petition [had] been filed... not later than 5 p.m. on the next business day following the day [their] petition [was] filed,” as stated in ORS § 250.085 (5).[1][5]

In order to qualify for the ballot, supporters were required to collect a minimum of 116,284 valid signatures by July 3, 2014. The following table regarded self-reported signature numbers by supporters of the initiative:

Date Signatures Collected
August 6, 2013 42,000[22]
August 30, 2013 72,000[23]
October 10, 2013 94,000[9]
November 21, 2013 115,000[17]
December 9, 2013 118,176[24]
January 29, 2014 127,000[25]
February 20, 2014 160,000[26]
July 3, 2014 116,284

See also

Suggest a link

Related articles

Additional reading


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Office of the Secretary of State, "Detailed Information For Initiative 7," accessed March 23, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Office of the Secretary of State, "Certified Ballot Title," accessed October 21, 2013
  3. Reuters, "After gay marriage legalized in Oregon, advocates abandon ballot push," May 23, 2014
  4. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Oregon Laws, "§ 250.085," accessed October 22, 2013
  6. ‘‘Washington Post’’, “Oregon will recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages”, October 18, 2013
  7. Oregonian, "Gay marriage supporters file two alternative initiatives for 2014 Oregon ballot,"February 11, 2013
  8. 8.0 8.1 Oregon United for Marriage
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 The Oregonian, "Portland Timbers, Portland Thorns and Portland Trail Blazers endorse same-sex marriage ballot campaign," October 11, 2013
  10. 10.0 10.1 OPB, "Kitzhaber, Roberts Sign Gay Marriage Petition," February 15, 2013
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Statesman Journal, "State Republican leaders support same-sex marriage," January 29, 2014
  12. Willamette Week, "Republican Rep. Julie Parrish Endorses Same-Sex Marriage," February 3, 2014
  13. The Oregonian, "Mainstream Republican figures join drive for same-sex marriage initiative in Oregon," January 29, 2014
  14. Democratic Party of Oregon, "Democratic Party of Oregon Endorses Marriage Equality Campaign," June 14, 2013
  15. Portland Business Journal, "Portland Business Alliance weighs in on gay marriage," September 10, 2013
  16. Portland Business Journal, "Adidas joins Timbers, Blazers, PBA in backing same-sex marriage," October 15, 2013
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 The Oregonian, "Nike's big contribution to Oregon gay marriage initiative comes with strings attached," November 21, 2013
  18. Portland Business Journal, "Same-sex marriage initiative gets Intel jolt," October 21, 2013
  19. Statesman Journal, "Same-sex marriage group targets Oregon," July 10, 2013
  20. 20.0 20.1 Portland Tribune, "Group that led charge against gay marriage changes tack," November 21, 2013
  21. Oregon Family Council, "Protect Religious Freedom Initiative," November 21, 2013
  22. The Oregonian, "Oregon gay marriage measure gathers signatures at quick pace," August 6, 2013
  23. The Oregonian, "Marijuana legalization, same-sex marriage advocates say federal decisions strengthen 2014 Oregon ballot initiative efforts," August 30, 2013
  24. KATU.com', "Oregon same-sex marriage advocates celebrate ballot measure milestone," December 9, 2013
  25. OregonLive.com, "Ruling on gay marriage in Oregon could come by summer after federal judge consolidates two cases," January 22, 2014
  26. OregonLive.com, "Oregon gay marriage backers say they may not need to continue ballot measure campaign," February 20, 2014