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Oregon Marriage Measure 36 (2004)
The Oregon Ballot Measure 36 was on the November 2, 2004 ballot in Oregon as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure banned same-sex marriages. Almost ten years later, the measure was overturned on May 19, 2014.
Four gay and lesbian couples took the measure to court, and argued the state's marriage laws unconstitutionally discriminated against them and excluded them from a fundamental right to marriage. On May 19, 2014, Judge Michael McShane of the United States District Court for the District of Oregon overturned the marriage ban, making Oregon the seventh state to have such measures overturned by judges. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) had refused to defend it in court. Roseblum said that there were no legal arguments that could support it in light of the 2013 decisions regarding same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court. In the week prior to his decision, Judge McShane denied a request by the National Organization for Marriage to defend the law on behalf of its Oregon members. The National Organization for Marriage filed an emergency appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit asking for a stay of a ruling that prohibited it from defending the state’s ban. The appeal was quickly denied. Gay rights groups claimed to have enough signatures to force a statewide vote on gay marriage in November 2014, but also said that they would discard the signatures and drop the campaign if the court ruled in their favor by May 23.
- Election results from Oregon Blue Book website, accessed December 16, 2013
Text of measure
The official ballot title for Measure 36 was:
Amends Constitution: Only Marriage Between One Man and One Woman Is Valid or Legally Recognized as Marriage
RESULT OF "YES" VOTE: "Yes" vote adds to Oregon constitution declaration of policy that only marriage between one man and one woman is valid or legally recognized as marriage.
The official ballot summary for Measure 36 was:
Amends constitution. Oregon statutes currently provide that marriage is a civil contract entered into in person between individuals of the opposite sex, that is, between males and females at least 17 years of age who solemnize the marriage by declaring "they take each other to be husband and wife." The existing Oregon Constitution contains no provision governing marriage. Currently, the State of Oregon recognizes out-of-state marriages that are valid in the state where performed, unless the marriage violates a strong public policy of Oregon. Measure adds to Oregon Constitution a declaration that the policy of the State of Oregon and its political subdivisions is that "only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage."
The full text of the constitutional changes enacted by Measure 36 was:
The Constitution of the State of Oregon is amended as follows:
Supporters of the measure argued that traditional family values would be under attack as long as same-sex marriage was permitted. Some argued that children raised without a mother and a father would not be emotionally or physically "healthy," and that foster children would be more likely to be placed in same-sex households if homosexual marriage was "normalized."
While certain supporters pointed out that Measure 36 was not about "hate," but about promoting a common good for Oregon, others such as the Traditional Prejudices Coalition took a stronger stance, calling homosexuals a "perverted" part of society and stating that those who do not follow the Bible will "burn in hell."
Some of the other supporters included:
- State Representative Susan Morgan
- Stronger Families for Oregon
- Restore America
- Representative Wayne Krieger
- Parents Education Association
- Senator Roger Beyer
- Clark Brody Retired Superintendent, Oregon Department of Education
- Gary George, State Senator
- Defense of Marriage Coalition
- Family Research Council
- City Bible Church
- New Hope Community Church
- Cedar Mill Bible Church
This measure was opposed by many people and organizations, including a number of churches and religious groups, who argued that Measure 36 wrongly allowed discrimination to be a part of the Oregon Constitution. Many pointed out that "love" should be the only deciding factor in whether a marriage is considered valid.
Some of those who opposed the measure include:
- American Friends Service Committee
- Community of Welcoming Congregations
- Planned Parenthood of the Columbia Willamette
- Central Pacific Conference of the United Church of Christ
- Religious Response Network
- The National Organization for Women, Corvallis Chapter
- National Association of Social Workers, Oregon Chapter
- Administrative Council of the University Park United Methodist Church
- Outright Libertarians
- State Rep. Kelley Wirth
- State Senator Vicki L. Walker
- The Session of Southminster Presbyterian Church
$2,455,816 was spent by the "yes" campaign and $2,967,012 was spent by the "no" campaign.
Larger donors to the pro-campaign were:
- Christian Copyright Licensing, Inc., $410,000.
- Focus on the Family, $138,364.
- Gateway Communications, $120,439.
- Neil Nedelisky, $101,000.
Larger donors to the anti-campaign were:
- National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, $662,858.
- Human Rights Campaign, $312,778.
- Basic Rights Oregon, $184,243.
- Tim Gill, $150,000.
- Robert Wilson, $100,000.
- Bruce Bastian, $27,500.
- SEIU, a local, $10,962.
- Eric Lemelson, $10,000.
- Associated Press, "Judge Strikes Down Oregon Gay Marriage Ban," May 19, 2014
- Associated Press, "Ruling expected Monday on Oregon gay marriage ban," May 19, 2014
- The Oregonian, "Gay marriage ruling in Oregon at noon; plaintiffs plan immediate wedding: Oregon politics today," May 19, 2014
- Associated Press, "Federal appeals court denies group's request to block gay marriage ruling in Oregon," May 19, 2014
- Oregon Secretary of State 2004 voter guide, accessed December 16, 2013
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Arguments in Favor from the State Voting Guide
- Arguments of Opposition from the State Voting Guide
- Follow the Money database for Oregon Ballot Measure 36 (2004)
State of Oregon
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