At this past weekend’s Dorchester Conference in Oregon, young Republicans convinced their fellow attendees to support marriage equality, which they did by a vote of 233-162. After numerous media outlets reported this week that Oregon Republicans were now supporting marriage equality, the Oregon Republican Party issued a statement officially distancing itself from the conference, which it described as “not an official Republican party event” and an attempt “to pull the Republican party to the left on policy issues.”
Instead, the party leaders explained, the state party still maintains a platform built around “religious liberty,” which requires opposing marriage equality, because same-sex marriage is “social engineering” that is “destroying the institution” of marriage:
The Republican Party has been the champion of civil rights for 160 years including leading the great movements abolishing slavery and enacting civil rights legislation in the 1960’s. However, freedom also includes being free from having the institutions of government used to interfere in your life and redefine social institutions such as marriage, which people have built their societies around for thousands of years.
The institution of marriage being between men and women pre-dates government, and has continuously served as the foundation for family structure in ordered societies for thousands of years. We oppose the use of government to suppress and control your rights by interfering in bedrock social institutions.
We continue to ask everyone of every background to join the Republican Party to help us protect and preserve freedom, protect your religious liberty, and to prevent government overreach from destroying the institution of marriage and further taking away your rights through social engineering.
Oregon already recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states. A December 2012 poll found that 54 percent of Oregonians would vote for a constitutional amendment to legalize same-sex marriage. State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced last month that she would not defend the state’s ban against a federal lawsuit, and activists have collected signatures for a ballot initiative should that suit not be successful.
Still, the state Republican Party likely recognizes that it was in Oregon that a bakery was found in violation of state nondiscrimination law for refusing to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. This is the very kind of discrimination that conservatives have been trying to legalize through “religious liberty” bills, like the one that was recently vetoed in Arizona.