A group opposed to gay marriage is
working on a ballot initiative that would effectively allow
businesses and individuals to discriminate on the basis of sexual
Oregon Family Council, the Christian
conservative group that spearheaded the 2004 campaign that led to
passage of the state's constitutional amendment limiting marriage to
heterosexual unions, on Thursday filed paperwork for a referendum
which would allow individuals and businesses to refuse participating
in or supporting same-sex unions, including marriages, civil unions
or domestic partnerships.
Wording for the group's Protect
Religious Freedom Initiative must first be approved by state
officials before it can begin collecting the 87,000 valid signatures
needed to reach the 2014 ballot.
Teresa Harke, communications director
for Oregon Family Council, told the Portland
Tribune that the measure was needed to protect marriage
equality opponents who are afraid to speak their minds.
“They've almost been beaten down to
the point where they're afraid to speak out,” Harke said.
Marriage equality supporters have
mounted a statewide campaign for a 2014 ballot question which seeks
to reverse the 2004 marriage ban championed by Oregon Family Council
and legalize gay nuptials in the state.
Harke said that her group would focus
on passage of the Protect Religious Freedom Initiative, suggesting
that it has abandoned plans to campaign against passage of the
marriage equality initiative.