PORTLAND, Ore. – The early bird gets the same-sex marriage petition signatures.
A group called Oregon United for Marriage began a petition drive at locations across the state on Friday morning with the goal of gathering enough signatures to get a same-sex marriage initiative on the November 2014 ballot.
Dozens of people began lining up at Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park at 6 a.m. on Friday, and the event continued throughout the day.
Among those on hand were Megan and Lainie Decker, who unofficially married in Portland in 2006, then were legally married in California two years later.
“You’re still making a public statement in front of your friends and family that you're committing to each other, but having the legal recognition means a lot for the security and stability of our family and for our kids' ability to talk about our family,” Megan Decker said. “We really want to see marriage be legal in Oregon so it's clear how we file our taxes, and what happens to our family if something goes wrong.”
Lainie Decker said the couple's oldest child, 5-year-old Adine, is starting to ask questions.
"She understands that that means we go to bed every night in the same house, we have breakfast together every day, we take her to school every day,” she said. “She doesn't understand that there's a federal law that says you have the rights to everything but marriage.”
The group is holding more than a dozen petition drives around the state, including in Bend, Pendleton, Newport, and Ashland. In the next 10 days, it hopes to collect 10,000 of the 116,284 valid signatures to get the initiative - called Oregon Says I Do - on the ballot.
One group that opposes the measure acknowledged it's likely to be on the ballot.
"The official campaign does not start until they have gathered the necessary signatures and it is on the ballot," Protect Marriage Oregon spokesperson Teresa Harke said in a statement. "However, we are fairly certain they will get the necessary signatures. Right now, Protect Marriage Oregon is in the process of laying the ground work for the campaign."
Volunteers were scheduled to be on hand in Portland at 6 a.m. 10 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday. They were asked to collect at least 25 signatures each.
“We’ve had more than 1,100 volunteers RSVP to be at our events around the state,” said Peter Zuckerman, the spokesperson for Oregon United for Marriage. “The momentum is tremendous. As more and more people get to talk to their friends and family and neighbors and see that there are gay and lesbian people all around them, and that gay and lesbian people want to marry for similar reasons as anyone else wants to marry, (they see) that it really comes down to treating others as one would want to be treated.”
A poll conducted last month by Survey USA for KATU showed a murky future for the measure if it's placed on the ballot.
When asked if Oregon's law that says marriage is between a man an woman should be changed, 49 percent said yes and 47 percent said no. When asked if the measure should be put on the ballot, 56 percent said yes and 41 percent said no.