2011 to 2014: Opinion polls in Oregon show gradually increasing support for SSM:
As for national polls and polls in other states, the support for same-sex marriage has gradually increased since 2011 as the opposition has decreased. The trends are not smooth, perhaps because of the small sample size of all of the polls which produce margins of error of about ~+mn~4 percentage points (p.p.):
Public Policy Polling 1
Public Policy Polling 2
Public Policy Polling 3
DHM Research 4
OR United for Marriage 5
As in all national and state polls on SSM that we have seen:
Women are more supportive than men;
Democrats are more supportive than Independents who were much more supportive than Republicans; and
Younger voters are more supporters than older.
The following graphic is from Oregon United for Marriage's Facebook page:
Within ten days of being posted, the graph received 1,036 "likes from visitors."
2014-APR-01: A coalition of Oregon employers support marriage equality:
A coalition of 36 Oregon employers â€" including Nike, the University of Oregon and the Portland Timbers (a professional soccer club) â€" filed an amicus curia brief with the U.S. District Court in Eugene. The coalition supports marriage equality. They note that the state ban on same-sex marriage is causing significant harm to business in the state.
The brief states that the SSM ban requires employers to:
"... involuntarily become the face of discrimination based on sexual orientation when they are forced to administer benefits differently for employees with a same-sex spouse in order to comply with Oregon law (e.g., income tax law). That imposes additional confusion, costs, and administrative burdens, which further harm Oregon businesses and their employees."
Hilary Krane, Nikeâ€™s general counsel, said:
"To attract and retain the best talent, we believe we need laws that promote diversity and inclusion, that treat all Oregonians equally and that prevent discrimination."
Frank Schubert, political director of the National Organization for Marriage's -- a group whose sole goal is the elimination of same-sex marriage throughout the U.S. -- disagreed with the Coalition, saying:
"The top-performing states in the country in terms of the economy are all states that have marriage amendments on the books. The arguments that these (Oregon) businesses are making are empty to begin with." 7
2014-MAY-08: Initiative to legalize discrimination against gays and bisexuals fails to get on the 2014-NOV state ballot:
The Oregon Family Council, who helped lead opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriages in Oregon during 2004, joined with other state opponents of gay marriages to form a new group "Friends of Religious Liberty." Their goal was to legalize discrimination against same-sex couples by Public Accommodations. During 2013, the Friends initiated the Oregon Protect Religious Freedom Initiative. Their goal was to place a plebiscite before the public at the time of the nation-wide mid-term elections on 2014-NOV-04. If passed, it would allow companies that supply goods and services to the general public that are related to civil unions, domestic partnerships or marriages to discriminate against same-sex couples if they are sincerely opposed to such unions on religious grounds.
Teresa Harke, communications director for the Council, justified the initiative as a reaction to a series of successful lawsuits that had been brought against bakers, florists and photographers in Oregon, Washington, Colorado and New Mexico after they had refused to supply goods and services for civil unions, domestic partnerships or marriages by same-sex couples. She said:
"People who are opposed to same-sex unions are afraid to speak their mind, even when itâ€™s based on religious convictions. Theyâ€™ve almost been beaten down to the point where theyâ€™re afraid to speak out."
Tim Nashif, a member of the Council's board, said that:
"If you poll religious conservatives now, gay marriage doesnâ€™t appear on their top list of concerns. ... The next big battle is going to be religious liberties in Oregon."
Placing the initiative on the ballot would have necessitated the signed approvals from a minimum of 87,213 adult signatures. The Friends were unsuccessful in meeting this number, and so the plebiscite was abandoned. 10,11
2014-MAY-19: National Organization for Marriage (NOM) attempts to have a stay on gay marriage imposed:
There was one unusual feature of the Oregon case: there were no active defendants. The Governor and the Attorney General, who would have been the logical state officers to defend Oregon's Measure 36, both refused to do so because they believed that the Measure was clearly unconstitutional. The National Organization for Marriage's sole function is to try to deny all same-sex couples across the U.S. -- and their children -- the security, status, protections and benefits of marriage. They had attempted to intervene in the case as a defendant, but were rejected by the judge.
NOM realized that the District Court was scheduled to release its ruling at noon Pacific Time on Monday, MAY-19. They expected a positive ruling that would legalize same-sex marriages across the state. At the last minute, in a preemptive attempt to prevent such marriages from being solemnized, they filed a petition with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the morning of MAY-19, asking the Court to invoke a stay on the District Court ruling when the latter was issued.
NOM's petition said, in part:
"Unlike in all the other pending cases, however, there is no adversary to Plaintiffsâ€™ constitutional challenges in this case. No one to take an appeal. And no one to request a stay that would preserve the status quo in Oregon pending ultimate resolution by the Supreme Court of the significant constitutional issues presented.
That is why NOM sought to intervene in this litigation, on behalf of its Oregon members who have significant protectable interests that will be effected should the district court rule that Oregonâ€™s marriage law is unconstitutional." 8
Other than having to accept the state of Oregon redefining marriage to allow all loving, committed couples to marry, it is not obvious what "significant protectable interests" that might suffer damage among NOM's members in Oregon if the District Court legalized marriage equality.
The state immediately filed a petition to the court in opposition to NOM's petition. It stated:
"...no party to the litigation challenging Oregonâ€™s same-sex marriage ban is seeking to stay the proceedings. Nor does any party to the litigation intend to appeal. To the contrary, Oregon officials are prepared to follow the courtâ€™s directives and counties stand ready to begin issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples otherwise qualified to marry should the district court strike down Oregonâ€™s ban on same-sex marriage. ... no stay is warranted because it is unlikely that NOM would prevail on appeal. ... As the district court found, it is the province of the Attorney General, who answers to the electorate of Oregon, and not NOM, which does not, to determine what legal position to take in response to a challenge to state law." 8
2014-MAY-19: Federal District Court judge issues ruling, overturning ban on SSMs. Marriage licenses issued:
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane had announced that he would issue his ruling on MAY-19 at 12:00 Noon.
He kept his promise. He declared that Measure 36 -- a 2004 amendment to the Oregon Constitution that banned same-sex marriages -- was unconstitutional. He eloquently said in his ruling that:
"Because Oregon's marriage laws discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without a rational relationship to any legitimate government interest, the laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. ..."
"My decision will not be the final word on this subject, but on this issue of marriage I am struck more by our similarities than our differences. I believe that if we can look for a moment past gender and sexuality, we can see in these plaintiffs nothing more or less than our own families, families who we would expect our Constitution to protect, if not exalt, in equal measure. ... With discernment we see not shadows lurking in closets or the stereotypes of what was once believed; rather, we see families committed to the common purpose of love, devotion, and service to the greater community. 9