Oregons business establishment is lining up to oppose the Protect Religious Freedom Initiative pushed by Christian conservatives.
Nike, Columbia Sportswear, the Oregon Business Association and the Portland Business Association are among the groups signing a print ad in opposition to the measure, which supporters hope to put on Oregons November general election ballot.
The initiative, being pushed by Oregon Family Council and its allies, would grant religious-based exemptions so service providers such as bakers or florists could refuse to serve same-sex couples holding commitment ceremonies. The state has determined that snubbing same-sex couples violates the state civil rights law that protects gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities from discrimination.
The initiative is being promoted by many of the same forces that spearheaded the 2004 constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage in Oregon. Supporters of the Protect Religious Freedom Initiative must collect 87,213 valid signatures by July 3 to qualify for the November ballot.
Since the passage of civil rights protections for sexual minorities and a companion law enabling same-sex couples to form domestic partnerships, there have been some high-profile cases where a florist, baker or other service provider refused to serve same-sex couples for their commitment ceremonies. Initiative backers want to carve out an exception to the state civil rights protections based on religious grounds.
The new print ad, endorsed by more than 160 businesses, reads: We want Oregon to be a great place to start and grow a business, and a place where employees can thrive in an inclusive work environment and welcoming community.