SALEM -- When a Gresham bakery refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in August of 2013, it revealed a deeply held belief by some that such unions are wrong. And they turn to their religion as proof.
The state called the refusal discrimination.
But a new petition would change Oregon law when it comes to gay weddings, and would allow people and companies to opt out.
The petition is supported by group called Friends of Religious Freedom.
Shawn Lindsay, a lawyer working with the group, issued a statement about their initiative which reads:
“The Protect Religious Freedom Initiative will protect Oregonians from government penalties or civil actions for choosing non-participation in same-sex ceremonies that violate their conscience or religious beliefs. This initiative is different from Arizona’s legislation. Our initiative will protect an individual from being coerced to participate in a same-sex CEREMONY in violation of their conscience for fear of retribution; it does not seek an ‘exemption’ from providing service to individuals.”
In a nutshell, supporters argue it’s an issue of religious freedom.
“That's not what this law is,” said Mike Marshall, the campaign manager for Oregon United for Marriage. “This is about allowing corporations and businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples on their wedding day.”
Over the past year, Oregon United for Marriage mobilized to gather $160,000 signatures to force a vote that could overturn Oregon’s ban on gay marriage. Now it will turn its focus on beating the new petition.
"It's never right to discriminate," said Marshall. "And to treat people different because of who they are or who they love is just discrimination."