Oregon Family Council: SCOTUS redefined marriage

6-26-13-same sex marriage-family group
Teresa Harke talks to KOIN 6 News June 26, 2013, following two Supreme Court decisions that give federal workers the same marriage benefits in all states that allow same-sex marriage. (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon supporters of same-sex marriage celebrated Wednesday’s Supreme Court decisions at Terry Shrunk Plaza in downtown Portland.

But those who believe the Defense of Marriage Act should not have been struck down are already speaking out in Oregon.

“We believe that same-sex marriage is a redefinition of what marriage is,” said Teresa Harke with the Oregon Family Council. “So it’s not that we oppose people being happy or in loving relationships. It’s just that we believe marriage is something different from what they’re saying that it should be.”

And they told KOIN 6 News they’re gearing up for the battle against making same-sex marriage legal in Oregon.

“We’re anticipating a discussion here in Oregon,” Harke told KOIN 6 News. “We haven’t had one since 2004 as far as ‘What do the people believe marriage is?’ And it’s our job to be out there explaining what we believe marriage is, and why it’s important that it stays that way.”

The Oregon Family Council’s message, according to its website, is that marriage under the law change “is less about what’s best for children — which in general is having them raised by their married mothers and fathers — and more about the interests of romantically involved adults.”

It was in 2004 that Oregon voters defined marriage as between one man and one woman — invalidating hundreds of same-sex marriages in Multnomah County. But this Supreme Court verdict provides momentum for a change, some said Wednesday.

As such, Oregon is not among the states impacted by Wednesday’s ruling. However, Washington state is.

Representatives with Oregon United for Marriage answer media questions the day the US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, June 26, 2013 (KOIN 6 News/Ty Nguyen)
Representatives for the ballot initiative “Oregon United for Marriage” answer media questions the day the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, June 26, 2013. (KOIN 6 News/Ty Nguyen)

The court’s ruling has “no direct effect on the constitutional amendments in 29 states that limit marriage to heterosexual couples,” the AP reported, “and some of them will likely become battlegrounds as the debate continues.” About 30 percent of Americans live in states recognizing same-sex marriage, according to the Associated Press calculations.

In Oregon, members of Basic Rights Oregon are organizing an initiative effort to add the issue to Oregon’s November 2014 ballot. It’s called Oregon United for Marriage.

“We feel more hopeful today,” said Jeanna Frazzini with Basic Rights Oregon following the high court’s decision, “that we’re on a path to the freedom to marry here in Oregon.”

So, even as same sex couples celebrate the Supreme Court victories in Oregon, they say there’s still a battle to be waged. Supporters of same-sex marriage need more than 116,000 signatures to get “Oregon United for Marriage” on the November 2014 ballot. The signature-gathering effort is expected to begin in July.

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