LAST WEEK, Concerned Oregonians' David Crowe sent out another email missive about his group's struggle to put two anti-gay initiatives on November's ballot. One—Initiative Petition 145—would repeal the state's anti-discrimination law, and the other, Initiative Petition 146, would reverse the state's domestic partnership law.
But Concerned Oregonians' effort, in partnership with former State Senator Marylin Shannon and her "Let Oregon Vote" group, seems headed for at least partial failure—something Crowe acknowledged in his update, before begging his supporters to pray.
"The likelihood is that we will have just enough time to get enough signatures for 145 on the ballot, but not 146," Crowe told his supporters via email on April 27. He also explained that the multiple legal steps petitioners have to pass through to even gain approval to collect signatures about an issue have delayed the initiatives. Both petitions—and a third earlier one about nonexistent "civil unions," which Crowe acknowledges is "legally flawed" but is still winding through the process—are caught up in ballot title approval and appeals.
Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have played a part in the delay: Both groups filed comments on the proposed initiatives. BRO and the ACLU have challenged two of the prospective petitions to the Oregon Supreme Court.
"Our concern is that voters understand what's at stake and that we have ballot titles that accurately reflect the reality of the measure," says BRO's Karynn Fish.
As a side effect, the challenge could tie up the two possible initiatives for weeks—and Crowe and his allies can't collect a single signature in the meantime.
"There is a not a timeline," says Scott Moore, spokesperson for the Oregon Secretary of State, which oversees the initiative process. "It's the Supreme Court. They run on their own timeline."
Coupled with Crowe's past admission that their group is extremely low on funds ($6,276.33 in the hole, as of this writing), the initiative delays spell trouble for the effort to overturn Oregon's new laws. Even if the Supreme Court okays the petitions in the next few weeks, the anti-gay activists would have just two months to collect 82,769 valid signatures—or 34,590 more than they failed to collect before, with one month less to do it.