Oregon Family Council Files ‘Right to Discriminate Against Gays’ Ballot Initiative

The Oregon Family Council, a right-wing religious group that led the 2004 campaign to ban same-sex marriage in Oregon, has filed for a ballot initiative that would give religious groups the right to discriminate against gays, the Portland Tribune reports:

OregonThe East Portland group filed a state ballot initiative Thursday, Nov. 21, that would guarantee the right of people and businesses to refrain from participating in or supporting ceremonies for same-sex civil unions, domestic partnerships or marriages, if those violate their religious beliefs.

The group calls the measure the Protect Religious Freedom Initiative.

The measure is a response to public penalties and lawsuits brought against bakers, florists and photographers in Oregon, Washington, Colorado and New Mexico who refused to play roles in same-sex ceremonies for civil unions, domestic partnerships or marriages, says Teresa Harke communications director for Oregon Family Council.

The group is also opposing the likely 2014 ballot measure that would legalize same-sex marriage and reverse the 2004 ban.


  1. woody says

    This is a pre-emptive strike, as they realize that the way things have been trending they will probably lose the marriage equality vote at the polls.
    In a way, this shows that we’re winning as they are reverting to a fallback position.

    But even that position is weak. Oregon already prohibits anti-gay discrimination, so they are proposing allowing something that’s already against the law. I wonder if a proposal that flouts existing public accommodations law will even make it to the ballot.

  2. Mike Ryan says

    I cannot believe the people of Oregon would ever vote for such a law and have every faith it will go down in humiliating defeat and marriage equality will win overwhelmingly. What is most telling here is the extent of bigotry and hatred religious fanatics are willing to publicly display as their losses will lead to the demise of their religion and all who cling to the outdated, bigoted notion that they are the victims here. I smile with glee at the inevitable outcome.

  3. says


    No matter whether it makes it on the ballot or, if it did, what voters decide, you can’t constitutionally allow one group (the “religious”) to target another (only gay people) for special discrimination. It would be like saying anyone who is white (and has “white” beliefs) does not have to open their public accommodations to support the weddings of black people. Non-discrimination laws would mean nothing if special exemptions start getting carved into them.

  4. HadenoughBS says

    While I can’t imagine this measure – even if approved – passing constitutional muster, this action is just so un-American. Yet such groups insist on being un-American toward their fellow citizens. It’s mind-boggling since these right wing groups profess to embrace the US Constitution.

  5. e.c. says

    It’s nice that divorce and adultery and all the things the Bible rails against repeatedly don’t seem to bother them one bit and once again their need for “religious freedom” begins and ends with discriminating against the gays.

  6. terry says

    Religious groups already discriminate without punishment. Individuals may not be able to claim a religious exemption but any institution with religious ties, i.e. Boy Scouts, can get away with anything. France is right, ban religious displays, keep your cult private. We’ve made the 1st amendment an excuse to foster hate.

  7. BZ says

    Oregon mails a voter’s pamphlet to everybody prior to the vote, and anybody with $500 can contribute their opinion. Our side has traditionally contributed parodies of the antigay side. Next year’s pamphlet should be entertaining.

  8. jamal49 says

    Our enemies will not stop. They will press this ballot initiative. They will probably get the signatures. They will look for any way by whatever means necessary to deprive us of our civil liberties and rights. They will continue to look for any legal case they can that will make it to the Supreme Court that will allow them to discriminate with impunity against us. I hate evangelicals. I loathe them. The only good evangelical is a dead evangelical. And I am ready to make good on that statement if evangelicals do not cease and desist their relentless persecution of LGBT people and their insistence in forcing their decadent religion down all of our throats.

  9. RonCharles says

    Why stop at gays? How about making it okay to discriminate against women, left-handed people and those with blue eyes, too? And let’s not forget about anyone with freckles!

  10. Cheryl Hawkins says

    Take a look at the consequences. A person doesn’t want to bake a cake or provide flowers for an event that violates their conscience they get harassed, picked apart by the media, and face lawsuits and fines with the state. The person that wants the cake has dozens and dozens of other options for bakeries that would gladly support their event. It is only fair to allow a local small business to not be forced to participate in an event that violates their conscience.

  11. Eric in Denver says

    Religion violates my conscience. I will from now on refuse to speak to, provide services to, or in any way support people with their “chosen alternative lifestyle” of being religious.

    Can’t it go the other way too? @Cheryl Hawkins.

  12. Canadian Observer says

    I am at the edge of my seat waiting for them to expand their initiative, so that true believers are able to discriminate on denominational grounds… Baptists not having to accommodate Catholics, and Muslims not having to accommodate Catholics and so on and so forth. I can almost hear the promotional advertising now… with Tom Leher’s National Brotherhood Week as the soundtrack.

  13. gordon says

    Lets also bring back discrimination against Jews, Italians, Blacks, Catholics, Mexicans, Women, Irish people, in fact lets all do more. Let us all discriminate against, well, all the people who aren’t like ME and MY beliefs. They should ALL be hounded out of MY America..
    Sheesh.. these people don’t really buy into the idea of being an AMERICAN do they?

  14. Bill says

    @ Gregory In Seattle: anyone can file an initiative, even a racist one. That doesn’t mean they will automatically get enough people to sign a petition to get it on the ballot. All the filing means is that they are stating what the initiative is and are then going to go around gathering signatures.

    What the filing requirement does is to make it possible for people to monitor the signature-gathering process and make sure that the public is not being misled about what they are signing.

  15. jeff says

    Now they have to get the requisite signatures to get this hateful thing on the ballot. I hope that I am right about Oregon and they will not even allow the opportunity for actual voting on this sinful bill.

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