Let's do it, Oregonians! Catch up to Washington state on "living free." Last year Washington affirmed the legality of gay marriage and legalized marijuana in a groundbreaking election.
While Oregon weenied out on legalizing pot. So now our neighbor state to the north will reap the tax revenues from Oregonians journeying across the border to score some legal weed.
Today I was excited to learn that Basic Rights Oregon has decided to put a measure on the 2014 ballot that would legalize same-sex marriage.
Basic Rights Oregon has been laying the groundwork for a statewide vote on the issue since 2009. In 2011, however, the group decided not to go to the ballot in 2012, with Frazzini saying at the time that there wasn’t enough consensus on the issue to have a “reasonable expectation of success.”
But with last year’s landmark victories and a continued shift in the polls toward more public acceptance of gay marriage, Basic Rights officials concluded that they could find fertile ground in 2014.
The most recent public survey on the issue, by Public Policy Polling in December, found that 54 percent of Oregon voters believed same-sex marriage should be legal, while 40 percent were opposed.
The campaign's web site, Oregon United for Marriage, already is up and running. Excellent.
The time is ripe for marriage equality, given the large shift in both public opinion and governmental policies toward gay marriage in recent years.
Likewise, the tide has turned for marijuana legalization, with voters in Colorado and Washington approving legal pot.
An architect of the successful Colorado effort, Steve Fox, came to Oregon and advised marijuana advocates to wait until 2016 to put another legalization initiative on the ballot.
Getting a legalization measure on the 2016 ballot – a presidential election year –would translate into greater voter support than if activists tried in 2014.
"What we have seen since 2000 is that if you do a ballot initiative related to marijuana on a presidential election year ballot as opposed to a mid-term election, the difference is stark," he said.
Fox said the extra two years gives voters the chance to see how legalization has worked in Colorado and Washington.
But his advice to wait another three years for another legalization initiative was a tough sell for some Oregon activists. They cite Oregon's proximity to Washington and the relatively narrow defeat of Measure 80, Oregon's legalization ballot measure, as reasons for pursuing an initiative sooner.
I agree with the activists.
Even more so now that a measure to legalize same-sex marriage almost certainly will be on the Oregon ballot in 2014. This will raise the visibility of the midterm election to nearly a presidential-year level.
I don't see how waiting to vote on marijuana legalization until 2016, when conservatives will be fired up to recapture the White House after eight years of Obama, makes sense. A lot of open-minded Oregonians are going to be eager to vote for same-sex marriage in 2014.
Might as well give them the opportunity to vote for legal pot on the same ballot.
But those who crafted the 2012 Oregon initiative need to be replaced. I thank them for their effort and enthusiasm. However, the initiative was poorly thought-out, and the campaign to pass it was a disaster. Even so, the vote was close.
With competent people in charge, there's a very good chance Oregon could legalize both marijuana and gay marriage next year.