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.