Oregon same-sex marriage supporters open campaign headquarters - KCTV5

Oregon same-sex marriage supporters open campaign headquarters

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Kristin and Shelly Casteel Kristin and Shelly Casteel
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Dozens gathered in Northeast Portland on Tuesday night to celebrate the grand opening of Oregon United for Marriage's new campaign headquarters.

The group is trying to collect enough signatures to qualify a measure for the November 2014 ballot. If passed, the measure would legalize same-sex marriage in Oregon. Since late July, campaign volunteers have collected nearly 81,000 signatures, campaign leaders said. More than 116,000 signatures are needed by next July.

The group's new space will be used to train volunteers, gather and hold meetings as the campaign kicks into high gear, leaders said.

Monday's opening happened on the same day that the Portland Business Alliance announced its support for legalizing same-sex marriage in Oregon, leaders said.

"My hope is that by starting really early and investing in uniting Oregon around this issue that we will have an enormous victory on election day," said Jeana Frazzini, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon. "But I know it's going to be hard work."

"We are the land of the free. We do believe in equality. And if we don't then, we need to change that. We have to. Isn't that what we stand for?" asked Shelly Casteel, who married her partner, Kristin, nine years ago in Victoria, British Columbia. They live in Oregon.

The Oregon Family Council, one of the lead opponents of the issue, believes that changing the traditional definition of marriage would be detrimental to children, according to a statement on the group's website.

The group believes voters have already spoken on the issue. In 2004, Oregon voters passed Measure 36, which amended the state's constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

FOX 12 Political Analyst Tim Hibbitts said the electorate has changed somewhat since then. He believes next year's potential fight will be competitive.

"I think anyone who looks and this and says 'Well, it passed in these states last year. It's sure to pass in Oregon next year.' I wouldn't say that that's necessarily the case," Hibbitts said. "I think the trends are running towards the pro same-sex marriage side, but I don't believe it's a sure thing."

One other thing to keep in mind is that last year was a presidential election year, which tends to bring out more younger voters, Hibbitts said. Young voters tend to be more in favor of the issue of same-sex marriage, he said. 

Next year is a non-presidential election year. Voter turnout is expected to be lower next year compared to a presidential election year, Hibbitts said. Turnout will be key in this race, he added.

The new campaign headquarters for Oregon United for Marriage is located at 727 Northeast 24th Avenue in Portland.

Copyright 2013 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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