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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Gay Marriage Opponents Say Initiative Would Have Unintended Consequences

SALEM, Ore. – As the U.S. Supreme Court debates same-sex marriage Tuesday, activists on both sides of the issue in Oregon are working behind the scenes to craft language for a 2014 ballot initiative. Opponents claim the current wording would have unintended political consequences.

Here's the ballot measure phrase that gay marriage opponents have seized upon: "The state of Oregon and its political subdivisions shall issue marriage licenses to all couples."

Attorneys for Oregon Family Council say in comments filed with the state that "political subdivisions" include every unit of government. They say if the initiative passes, cities, school districts and even relatively obscure soil and water districts would have to issue marriage licenses.

But Amy Ruiz with the group Basic Rights Oregon calls the claim a "red herring."

"What we were trying to make clear there is that marriages that would be allowed should Oregonians pass this initiative, marriage would be available to all couples and those marriages would be recognized by all political subdivisions."

Ruiz says state law makes it clear that only county clerks can issue marriage licenses and she says the constitutional amendment wouldn't change that. If enough signatures are collected, the initiative would go before voters in November 2014.

On the Web:

Text and comments for Initiative Petition 7 - Oregon Secretary of State 
Text and comments for Initiative Petition 8 - Oregon Secretary of State