PORTLAND, Ore. (BP)–Just two months ago, some were wondering if pro-family groups in Oregon could gather the required 100,000 signatures for a marriage amendment in just five short weeks.
There are few doubters now.
The Oregon Defense of Marriage Coalition delivered 244,000 signatures to the secretary of state June 30, all but guaranteeing that Oregon citizens will vote on a state constitutional marriage amendment in November.
Meanwhile, the Arkansas Marriage Amendment Committee submitted 200,693 signatures July 1, more than twice the 80,570 needed.
Both amendments would protect the traditional definition of marriage, thus banning same-sex “marriage” in those states. The petitions now must be certified by their respective secretaries of state.
The effort in Oregon surprised some experts. No group had ever gathered so many signatures — on any issue — in such a short time. Incredibly, the coalition had to toss out some 20,000 additional signatures for technical reasons. In addition, they submitted the signatures two days ahead of the deadline. Churches were at the heart of the campaign.
“We’ve still got [petitions] coming in,” Tim Nashif, political director for the Oregon Defense of Marriage Coalition, told Baptist Press.
Nashif hopes that the drive’s success will impact the U.S. Senate, where a debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment is scheduled to begin July 12. Some Senators have said that the amendment doesn’t have enough support. Nashif thinks differently.
“Anything that happens with Oregon, if it’s positive, will be a boost to the rest of the nation, because it has more of a liberal reputation,” he said.
Already, six states will be voting on state constitutional marriage amendments this year. That number could grow to 13 if every petition drive, including Oregon’s and Arkansas’s, succeeds.
While some homosexual activists have said the marriage amendment issue is strongest in the South, the petition drives are showing otherwise.
Michigan could be the next non-Southern state to qualify an amendment for the ballot. Pro-family activists there say they have more than 400,000 signatures, well over the 317,000 needed. They have not yet turned them in for certification.
Neither Michigan nor Oregon is considered a conservative state — both went to Al Gore in the 2000 election.
The petition drive in Oregon, though, may be the most important of them all. Multnomah County, Ore., issued thousands of marriage licenses to same-sex couples before being stopped by a state judge, and many observers in the state believe the Oregon Supreme Court likely will legalize same-sex “marriage,” making it, in essence, the next Massachusetts. A constitutional amendment would prevent the court from issuing such a ruling.
“It [Multnomah County’s action] is what caused us to do what we’re doing,” Nashif said.
Now, the push to get the amendment to pass in November begins. Nashif estimates that his group needs $1.5 million to win the battle in the political arena by running TV, radio and print advertisements.
“It’s going to cost a lot of money, and that’s our concern — raising enough money to debate the issue,” he said. “The opposition, of course, wants to call it discrimination. Basically, we’ve done our part on the signature gathering. Now we’ve got to raise the money and do a great campaign.”
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit