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Oregon Republicans Support Marriage Equality in Landmark Vote at Annual Conference

Republicans at the 50th Annual Dorchester Conference in Seaside, Oregon voted 233 -162 over the weekend in a first-ever endorsement of marriage equality by a GOP-dominated gathering of Oregon political activists, according to a press release from Freedom Oregon.

OregonFreedom Oregon, a coalition of Republican leaders, formed earlier this year to rally Republican support for a proposed ballot initiative that would overturn Oregon’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

“There are a large number of young Republicans who are finding their voice in the party,” said Alexis Wolf, a Republican active in Freedom Oregon. “We don’t believe the freedom to express love and commitment should be limited by government.”

Said Chairman of LCR Oregon and Co-Director of Freedom Oregon James Owens, in a statement:

“The Dorchester Conference sets the tone for the GOP in Oregon for the coming year, and I’m proud to have led Log Cabin Republicans members on the floor of the convention today as we made history and moved one step closer to making marriage equality a reality for committed same-sex couples in this state. This wasn’t a vote against an anti-gay resolution, it was a vote in favor of freedom for all Oregonians — and a message to those fringe members of the Oregon Republican Party obsessed with pushing discriminatory measures similar to Arizona’s SB-1062 on the ballot in November. Today wasn’t just great — it was the absolute best outcome for Log Cabin Republicans, and a statement that Oregon Republicans are becoming more mainstream, less divided, and ready to win on issues like economic freedom, personal responsibility, lower taxes and a less intrusive government.”

Oregon's marriage equality battle is headed to a climax in 2014. Not only are there efforts toward a ballot measure underway which must qualify by July 3, two couples filed suit against the state's gay marriage ban in October.

Oregon's attorney general Ellen Rosenblum said last month that she would not defend the state's gay marriage ban in court, joining several attorneys general around the country in viewing such laws as unconstitutional following the SCOTUS ruling in the Windsor DOMA case.

Oregon's Attorney General Says She Won't Defend State's Gay Marriage Ban Against Court Challenge

Rosenblum Oregon

Oregon's Attorney General will not defend the state's gay marriage ban against a court challenge, Bloomberg reports:

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a court filing today that state officials will continue to enforce the ban unless it’s overturned by the court, while taking the position that the law “cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review.”

Two couples filed suit in October challenging the state's ban in addition to a separate lawsuit filed against it by Oregon United for Marriage.

Read the Attorney General's brief here.

Focus on the Family: LGBT Nondiscrimination Policies Discriminate Against Christians - VIDEO

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In a new video, Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink host Stuart Shepard explains how when there’s a “tie” between Christians and other protected classes, the Christians always “lose.”

Shepard uses the example of the Oregon bakery owners who were found guilty of unlawfully discriminating against a gay couple when they cited their religious beliefs in their refusal to bake a wedding cake for said couple.


ThinkProgress breaks down Shepard’s faulty logic:

Shepard is right that religion is a protected class in Oregon, but he’s wrong about what that entitles Christians to. Oregon’s law applies only in specific contexts, such as employment, housing, and public accommodations — the latter being the relevant one to the bakery. A public store-front business is a public accommodation, and so it is illegal to provide wedding cakes to straight couples and not to gay couples. Similarly, it would be illegal to provide wedding cakes to Jewish couples and not Christian couples, and in such a case, the Christian couple would be protected by the same law. Therefore, both classes are protected equally. There is no protection in the law related to how to run a business.

Earlier this month, FotF began a new evangelical campaign with the message that gays are made in the image of God and therefore deserve respect. Apparently that “respect” just doesn’t include employment, housing, and public accommodations protections…

Continue reading "Focus on the Family: LGBT Nondiscrimination Policies Discriminate Against Christians - VIDEO" »

State Investigation: Oregon Baker Unlawfully Discriminated Against Gay Couple


Sweet Cakes by Melissa, the Oregon baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple's wedding, were protested heavily, and closed up shop late last year after being the target of a state investigation, have been found guilty by that investigation of unlawfully discrimination, The Oregonian reports.

The state will now oversee a conciliation process between the two parties to see if a settlement can be reached. If not, the labor bureau may pursue charges before an administrative law judge...

...Herbert Grey, the Beaverton attorney representing bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein, said the investigation’s outcome was expected. He said the Kleins will participate in the conciliation process, but are maintaining their original stance.

The Kleins have contended they weren't discriminating against the couple, who were customers in the past. Instead, they say they were practicing their Constitutional right to religious freedom. They have said baking a cake for a same-sex wedding would violate their Christian beliefs.

CakeThe couple asked for prayers from supporters on their Facebook page following the decision, writing:

To all of you that have been praying for Aaron and I, I want to say thank you. I know that your prayers are being heard. I feel such a peace with all of this that is going on. Even though there are days that are hard and times of struggle we still feel that the Lord is in this. It is His fight and our situation is in His hands. We received papers from BOLI yesterday and they have made their decision that we have apparently discriminated. From what we have gathered we now have to wait to find out what the fines will be within 60 days. I can't say much more but will update when I'm able to. Please continue to pray for our family. God is great, amazing and all powerful. I know He has a plan 

Look to Oregon For Our Most Important Marriage Ballot Battle In 2014



In just ten months, Americans will be going to the polls once again. Seems like we just made the same journey yesterday but nevertheless the season is once more upon us. LGBT Americans will join the rest of country as we hold our breath to see who controls Congress and also if progressives can regain governorships in key states. As in every election year, this one will be proclaimed critical to the future of the country.

OregonFor the LGBT community, we will be looking westward toward the state of Oregon.

Since last July, the forces for equality have been gathering signatures to place on the ballot a measure that would repeal the state's constitutional amendment that bans marriage equality. In addition, it would make same sex marriage legal in the 'Beaver State'. The voters passed that constitutional ban in 2004 by a margin of 57% to 43%.

This will be the first time an effort has been made to repeal a constitutional marriage equality ban by ballot. If they are successful in Oregon, it means marriage equality forces can look to other states in 2016, such as Ohio, to start repealing constitutional amendments that exist in twenty-nine states.

Hopefully the courts will shortcut this entire process but we can't build our freedom on 'wishful thinking'. The effort for full marriage equality in every state must continue until we are successful.

So how are they doing in Oregon?

Peter-ZuckermanCommunications Director Peter Zuckerman for Oregon United for Marriage reports that for the ballot measure to qualify for the November election they need 116,284 valid signatures by July 3rd of this year. As of this week, the campaign has collected just over 122,000. Of course, we need to obtain many more to ensure that we have enough signatures once the Secretary of State's office checks for validity.

There is little doubt that Oregonians will go to the polls and vote on this issue in November.

The polls show a very tight race. On this particular ballot question, a poll shows us winning by less than a majority right now with 49% in favor of repeal and 42% for keeping the amendment. Another 9% are undecided. When voters are asked if they generally favor marriage equality that figure escalates to 54%.

While is a close race, it is a winnable race.

Evan Wolfson, President of Freedom to Marry, says the organization has made this 'a very high priority for 2014 since it is a chance to show that having won in the courts and having won in the legislatures we can show we can win at the ballot box." The organization already has two full time staff members in the state and is the largest out-of-state funder for the effort.

As neighboring Washington State proved it will be an expensive and tough battle. The people in the Evergreen State spent well over $12 million and had over 30,000 volunteer hours in the road to victory.

Wolfson and Zuckerman both believe it will take the same kind of effort to win in Oregon. Says Wolfson:

"From those of us outside Oregon, it will require early and sustained support for the excellent campaign we have come together to build -- Oregon United for Marriage -- probably in the $10-12 million range. For the campaign, it will require continued persuasion as well as a massive voter identification and turn-out effort, including voter registration, particularly among younger voters."

NikeCorporations are coming to the forefront in fighting for marriage equality in The Beaver State. Nike has already raised $280,000 to fight for the ballot measure.

So fasten your seatbelts, plan vacation time in Oregon, and start planning fundraisers in your home states since we need to hit the barricades fighting for freedom yet one more time. The LGBT community has learned to love the feeling of winning so let's not stop the momentum now.

Gay Oregon Couple Together For 60 Years Goes To Washington To Get Married: AUDIO


As same-sex marriage becomes legal in more and more states across the country, gay and lesbian couples from neighboring states that prohibit same-sex marriage often pour in to nearby LGBT-friendly states to say, "I do." One such couple, Eric Marcoux and Eugene Woodworth of Portland, Oregon, who we told you about almost a year ago, have finally decided to tie the knot after 60 years together. Though Oregon has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the couple travelled to nearby Washington state that just last year legalized same-sex marriage. The couple didn't rush to the altar once the Evergreen state made equality the law of the land, preferring to have their wedding in Oregon once it became legal there. However, Woodworth has recently been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and, according to doctors, only has weeks to live. He wants to marry his longtime partner now because he hopes Marcoux will be able to inherit his social security survivor benefits. From Oregon Public Radio:

Eric Marcoux and Eugene Woodworth have been together since they the day they met in Chicago in 1953. “I am here today to be legally married to Eugene Woodworth, with whom I have had an intimate deeply committed relationship for a little over sixty years,” Marcoux says. Marcoux is 83 years old and Woodworth is 85...

“We’ve observed federal government extending privileges. Then it occurred to us, ‘Well, maybe we’ll be able to transfer his social security, which is significantly greater than mine, to me,” says Marcoux. “And although it’s a modest one, it will make an enormous difference in the kind of life that I will be able to leave – live! – and leave.”

“He deserves it after living with me for sixty years,” Woodworth says.

“Maybe we should unpack that,” Marcoux jokes.

After the couple was legally married, Woodworth told the Judge who officiated,

“We’ve been married twice before in religious ceremonies...But we met sixty years ago, and this is the first legal thing. It’s such a pity that we had to wait that long.”

After signing the marriage documents, the two make their way out to their car for the 20-minute drive home to Oregon.

Marcoux gets in the car and shuts the door.

“We made it,” he says with a sigh. “Wonderful! We made it.”

You can also check out an audio clip on the adorable couple's big day AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Oregon Couple Together For 60 Years Goes To Washington To Get Married: AUDIO" »


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