Gay marriage fight begins at PSU

The campaign to fight for same-sex marriage rights in Oregonstarted with an event in the Multicultural Center Tuesdayafternoon.

The “No on Constitutional Amendment 36” Coalition, whichsponsored the rally, is comprised of many groups, including BasicRights Oregon, Planned Parenthood of the Columbia Willamette,Oregon Action and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Constitutional Amendment 36 proposes adding to the stateconstitution a restriction of marriage rights to only heterosexualcouples. It would nullify the marriages of the more than 3,000homosexual couples that were issued licenses by Multnomah Countythis past spring.

Oregon has a historical precedent of defeating other anti-gaymeasures in the past decade, such as Measure 9 in 2000. Measure 9would have taken funding from public bodies such as schools andprisons for endorsing, or educating about, homosexuality. It wasnarrowly defeated.

Like Measure 9, supporters of Constitutional Amendment 36rhetorically approach the issue not from the standpoint of limitinggay rights but from seeking to protect and preserve a “traditional”lifestyle.

Supporters of the amendment, such as amendment authors theDefense of Marriage Coalition, have already rallied around theissue, stressing to conservative and swing voters that extendingrights to gays would undermine the historically heterosexualinstitution.

Traditional values are an easy point for conservative leaders torally the public around, but the more exposure voters have to themessage of tolerance the less likely they will be to approve theamendment, say opponents.

The issue is often regarded as a separation of church and statequestion. Every legal opinion given so far has found that the stateconstitution supports equal tangible benefits of marriage forhomosexual couples, whether in civil unions or marriages. Amendment36 would rule out civil unions as well as unions calledmarriages.

“This proposal is nothing short of putting discriminationagainst gays and lesbians into the Oregon Bill of Rights,” theOregon chapter of the ACLU wrote.

The “No on Constitutional Amendment 36” coalition’s next step isto make sure that Oregonians hear more about the measure.

The coalition’s Web site,, has unveiled plans fordoor-to-door canvassing and phone outreach in coming weeks.

Basic Rights Oregon, the major pro-gay rights organizationbehind the coalition, called in early July for volunteers for its”Equality in Oregon” campaign.