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Gay Marriage

Statesman Journal: Republican Leaders Voice Gay Marriage Ban Opposition

Republican lawmakers are filming videos in support of the campaign to overturn Oregon’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

“I was tapped to do this, and I’m happy to do it,” Rep. Vicki Berger, R-Salem Berger said.

Berger is one of an unknown number of Republicans working with the Oregon United for Marriage Campaign. Spokesman Peter Zuckerman declined to elaborate on who else was involved.

“Republicans are coming to support the freedom to marry, and we will have more about that soon,” Zuckerman said.

When Oregonians voted in 2004 for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between one man and one woman, Republicans who supported same-sex unions stayed quiet, said Jim Moore, a political science professor at Pacific University.

“It shows just a sea change in the past 10 years,” Moore said. “It’s not just opinion polls saying the world is changing, but the political establishment is saying we also need to move to same-sex marriage.”

Berger, who is retiring from the Legislature in 2014, helped a bill recognizing same-sex domestic partnerships pass the Legislature in 2007, so she doesn’t think her video segment will surprise people.

“I haven’t changed my position on this … (Retiring) makes it easier for me to be a Republican leader in this,” Berger said. “Now I don’t have to ask if they are going to put a more conservative candidate against me. However, I probably would have done this anyway.”

Moore said getting prominent Republicans to openly support same-sex marriage also shows that national framing of the issue as one of love rather than rights has been “very effective.”

Another tool in Oregon United For Marriage’s tool chest is Elaine Franklin — a GOP political consultant and the wife of former Republican Sen. Bob Packwood.

Berger told the Statesman Journal that Franklin reached out to her on behalf of the campaign to film the video. Franklin could not be reached for comment.

“She was a wise choice,” Moore said. “There’s a trust there because of her involvement that wouldn’t be there otherwise.”

In December, Oregon United for Marriage cleared the 116,284 signature hurdle to put the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection Initiative on the November ballot. The group still is collecting more signatures because it’s likely several thousand names will be disqualified during the verification process by the Secretary of State’s Office.

“I think Republican support says that there is very good chance of (the initiative) passing,” Moore said. “But there’s state history that makes me reticent to say this is going to be a slam dunk because it has bipartisan support.”

astaver@StatesmanJournal .com, (503) 399-6610, or on Twitter@AnnaStaver