Basic Rights Oregon decides against 2012 ballot measure

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Basic Rights Oregon has decided not to pursue marriage equality by ballot measure in 2012. If they had been successful, Oregon would have been the first state in the country to successfully legalize marriage equality through a vote of the people.

In an email, BRO executive director Jeanna Frazzini wrote:

I've spoken with countless supporters this week as we traveled the state, holding town halls to talk about when and how to win the freedom to marry. So many of you have worked long and hard to prepare for a potential ballot measure campaign. But as I spoke with you, person after person made it clear you want us to continue the education work we are doing – and not to move forward into a political fight until we are ready to win.

The full statement from BRO:

For three years, Basic Rights Oregon has led a proactive community education campaign to build public support for the freedom to marry for all caring and committed couples. We have reached out to our neighbors in communites across the state, engaged in thoughtful conversations, and shared our stories in TV ads and online.

This work is opening hearts and changing minds. Every day more and more Oregonians are coming to support the freedom to marry.

In Oregon, the only path to allowing same-gender couples to join in civil marriage is through the ballot. It is not a question of if we will cross this threshold, but when.

We have considered the possibility of putting this issue on the ballot for the 2012 election. However several factors, including the expense of waging a statewide political campaign in the midst of an economic crisis, led us to conclude that we are better off extending our education campaign and building momentum for a later election.

Ballot measures in Oregon have historically been used to attack the gay and transgender community. Today, we are finally in the driver's seat, deciding when to go forward with a proactive ballot measure to achieve equality, instead of just fighting back. That presents our community with a tremendous opportunity and an immense responsibility.

To reach this decision, we evalutated a variety of data including an online survey with over 1,000 respondents from across Oregon. We convened a group of community leaders and campaign professionals, and held town halls in communities around the state.

The feedback we have overwhelmingly heard is that we must allow our education work to continue. The progress we've made in increasing support for the freedom to marry will only get better in the next two years.

Today we re-commit ourselves to this effort. We're committed to opening a new dialogue with our friends, family and neighbors and, ultimately, winning the freedom to marry.

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    I am shocked. I fully expected that they would have the polling to justify the campaign in 2008.

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      2012, you mean.

      Polling, of course, is not the only factor. The political environment matters (no top-of-ticket statewide campaigns driving turnout in 2012), as does fundraising (I have no idea.)

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    There are about ten factors you want to evaluate when deciding whether to run an initiative - including impact on other races, impact on turnout, ability to build the movement/organization, impact on the opposition, opportunity cost, winning the damn thing, so on, so forth.

    It's certainly one of the most expensive things you can do in politics, and comes with huge risks. Given who's involved, I imagine BRO looked very carefully at all those factors and more and decided to hold off. Tough call to make, but I respect it.

    The long struggle to equality continues. We'll get there one day.

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    I wish we were ready, but I guess we're not. It hurts my heart.

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    I think the decision, although difficult, is the right one. We need to take this to the ballot when we are reasonably sure we can win. To run this and lose would kill our chances of trying again for years. Patience....educating the public, recruiting volunteers, raising money for the fight. These are things that will help us be unbeatable when it does get on the ballot. It WILL happen and we WILL win.

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    If the data and discernment is that it's not good timing, then I'm glad they are going to wait. The education campaign is a good one, and effective, and I'm glad it's continuing. The tide is turning and the time to make a move will come.

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