Gay activists eyeing Oregon as they gain confidence
When Kerry lost to incumbent W Bush in 2004, it was along with a domino of states falling to bans on gay marriage. Now, 5 years later, Gay Marriage proponents are rethinking strategies for reversal of that '04 trend.
Buoyed by confidence, gay activists launched a voter campaign program this week which targets the state of Oregon. The goal: Repealing that state's ban on gay marriage.
Freedom to Marry , a national gay advocacy coalition headed by Even Wolfson is spearheading this enterprise. Wolfons says he hopes that a change is coming over the "hearts and minds" of Americans, and that Oregon voters might reverse the 2004 decision to ban gay marriage.
With states such as Massachusetts and Iowa now allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, he said, people around the country "are realizing there is no good reason to exclude them from marriage."
"They are seeing with their own eyes families helped and no one hurt," said Wolfson, who traveled from New York to address rallies in Portland and Eugene.
The announcement of the Oregon campaign comes as voters in neighboring Washington state are deciding Tuesday whether to uphold that state's domestic partnership law. Also Tuesday, voters in Maine are deciding whether to uphold a law legalizing gay marriage.
In 2004, Oregon voters passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman.
The state's largest gay rights organization, Basic Rights Oregon, thinks next year's election would likely be too soon to take the issue back to Oregon voters.
Basic Rights officials said Monday they want to launch a statewide "conversation" with voters on the issue well in advance of placing something on the ballot, in 2012 or beyond.
"The heat of a campaign is no time to have a calm, heartfelt conversation about why civil marriage is so important" to gays and lesbians, said group's executive director, Jeana Frazzini.
Gay rights advocates have been encouraged by the legalization of same-sex marriage in six states: Massachusetts, Iowa, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut and New Hampshire. They believe Oregon voters eventually will be ready to move in that direction.
The only way for that to happen in Oregon, though, would be to persuade voters to reverse themselves by repealing the state's existing constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.