People are out collecting signatures to get the Oregon’s Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) for women on the November 2014 ballot. This could mean a change to the state constitution to include language that specifically protects women.
Oregon’s ERA for women has been out there several times before now, most recently before the legislative session in 2013, but it didn't pass.
A group called VoteERA.org is behind the initiative. They need 116,284 signatures to get it on the ballot and feel they have enough voter support to make that happen.
Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo is the president of VoteERA.org. She said one of the challenges is convincing people that the state constitution really hasn’t been amended for sex equality since the 1850s.
"The point is to not have women be vulnerable to only case law. Case law can be overturned. It can be reinterpreted five years from now, 50 years from now. But if you have the words in the constitution, that's as much protection as you can get,” explained Littrell DiLorenzo.
An Oregon Supreme Court ruling already legally protects sex discrimination. That’s why the Oregon American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) isn’t taking a stance on the ERA initiative for now. Executive Director David Fidanque calls the initiative "unnecessary."
"We are in the process of reviewing the initiative, and will be taking it to our board in a few months," Fidanque said.
VoteERA.org’s effort goes hand-in-hand with a similar effort to get a federal ERA passed. Supporters say that's needed because the federal government does treat sex discrimination differently than other forms of discrimination.
Paid signature gatherers for VoteERA.org will be canvassing throughout the state for the next few months.
Oregon is one of 28 states that does not already have an ERA for women.