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Oregon AG’s office rejects gay marriage opponents’ effort to confuse voters on ballot title

Oregon AG’s office rejects gay marriage opponents’ effort to confuse voters on ballot title

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon attorney general’s office on Friday rejected an attempt by gay marriage opponents to confuse voters by rewriting the ballot title for a proposed initiative that would legalize same-sex marriage in Oregon.

An attorney for the Oregon Family Council argued that the title should reflect the notion that the initiative would require every governmental agency in Oregon to issue marriage licenses, reported The Oregonian.

Basic Rights Oregon, a statewide LGBT advocacy group called the effort absurd, and said county clerks would continue to be the only ones issuing marriage licenses if voter approve the measure.

Jeff Payne, an assistant attorney general, called the opponents’ argument questionable. And even if it turns out to be correct, he said, “requiring officials other than county clerks to issue marriage licenses is a secondary effect of the measure, not its subject” and should thereby not be in the ballot title.

Basic Rights Oregon is considering two possible versions of the initiative, although the title for both will likely read: “Amends Constitution: Recognizes marriage between couples of same gender; protects clergy/religious institutions’ refusal to perform marriages.”

Either side can now appeal the ballot title to the state Supreme Court.

Ballot titles are important because they are often the main thing that voters focus on when deciding how to vote on a measure.

Basic Rights needs to collect 116,284 signatures by July of 2014 to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.

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