Oregon Ballot Measure 303 (2008)

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Ballot Measure 303 was also known as Referral of House Bill 2007 and the Oregon Family Fairness Act. It was a veto referendum. If the measure had appeared on the ballot, Oregon voters would have voted on HB 2007, a bill passed in May 2007 and signed by Oregon's governor that conferred benefits similar to marriage on civil unions (sometimes called domestic partnerships) between members of the same sex. Before HB 2007 was signed into law and took effect on January 1, 2008, marriage benefits in Oregon applied exclusively to marriages between a man and a woman.


Measure 303 was filed on May 16, 2007 and approved for circulation on May 18, 2007. 62,000 signatures were submitted in fall 2007 and on October 8, 2007, the Oregon Secretary of State declared that not enough signatures were valid. Subsequently, the Alliance Defense Fund filed a federal lawsuit, Lemons v. Bradbury, on behalf of several Oregon residents who had signed the petition. On February 1, 2008, Judge Michael Mosman ruled against the plaintiff. In March 2008, the Alliance Defense Fund filed an appeal of Judge Mosman's ruling, Lemons v. Bradbury, to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

On August 14, 2008, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled against the plaintiff.


The referendum was supported by Concerned Oregonians.[1] Their argument for overturning ballot measure 303 is that by granting same-sex couples domestic partnerships, HB 2007 violates the Oregon Constitution by giving homosexuals the benefits of marriage (which is defined in Oregon as being between one man and one woman).

Janice Bentson, Aleksandr Voronko, and Carolyn Wendell were the chief petitioners of the measure.


Ballot Measure 303 was opposed by Basic Rights Oregon, who work toward ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Oregon. Their argument for keeping ballot measure 303 were that 1) it was already a law -- Oregonians already had spoken on this issue and 2) they wanted to protect basic fairness and protect all Oregon families from discrimination.[2]

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