Oregon Emerges As Key Marriage Battleground

National organizations to pour money, resources into beating back amendment

With gay men and lesbians from coast to coast facing ballot initiatives that would enshrine bans on same-sex marriage in their state constitutions, Oregon has emerged as the place with the best chance of defeating such an amendment at the polls this fall, according to the community’s national political groups.

To insure at least one victory out of as many as 12 battles on or before November 2, those groups are investing huge amounts of money in the two Oregon organizations fighting the constitutional amendment there, and sending them field workers, strategists and organizers.

A gay victory in Oregon is all the more important in the wake of the trouncing the community received on a similar ballot initiative in Missouri on August 3, one that may foreshadow the experience of lesbian and gay communities in most other states facing a vote on marriage-related amendments this fall. Losses across the board would not only be disempowering, but would also send an ominous signal to those working to protect the community’s most important win to date—in Massachusetts.

“Oregon is the place where we have our best chance,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF). He added, “We are determined to give at least one state the resources it needs to run a fully financed campaign,” later concluding, “we’re putting our chips down in Oregon.”

“It is an extremely tall order in every one of these states, [but] Oregon is our best chance,” echoed Seth Kilbourn, the field director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). He added, “We will definitely contribute significantly more to Oregon [than to other states.]”

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