Update 5:55 PM: Michael Lewellen, VP for communications of the Trail Blazers sent this statement a few minutes ago, in response to my question to him this afternoon:
“The Portland Trail Blazers are in support of the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection ballot initiative. We do so as believers in individual choice as a fundamental right of all people.”
The Trail Blazers are now the biggest pro sports team, apparently the first from a big four pro league, to formally endorse a marriage equality ballot measure.
Original post: You've probably got a good reason or two, or at least a bunch of bad ones, if you're one of the few people in Portland who've never been out to watch the Timbers or Thorns with your own eyes. Maybe you're just a casual soccer fan. Maybe you hate soccer. Or maybe it's just simple, stupid inertia. Whatever.
But here's one to get you going—even if you think soccer is dumb. (It's not; I just said that for the sake of argument.) The Portland Timbers and the Portland Thorns FC, in a major first for American professional sports, have formally declared their support for a ballot measure next year that would bring marriage equality to Oregon.
And, look! They made a video!
The endorsement follows recent nods from groups like the Portland Business Alliance and the Oregon Business Association—evidence that the ballot measure's main backers are working methodically to build a broad base of high-profile and diverse supporters ahead of any right-wing Christian jihadi counter fundraising push.
A statement from Oregon United for Marriage, the coalition running the campaign, says 91,114 signatures have been gathered, as yesterday, in support of putting the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection Initiative on the ballot next November. The measure would undo a discriminatory state constitutional amendment, approved in 2004, that banned same-sex marriage.
The campaign says it's the first time any major U.S. professional sports teams have endorsed a same-sex marriage ballot campaign. Give 'em credit. Most sports teams (hi, Seattle Seahawks!) would prefer to ignore the subject as much as possible.
“We are proud to support Oregon United for Marriage and its efforts to secure the freedom to marry for all Oregonians next November,” Timbers owner Merritt Paulson said in a statement.
I'm looking at you next, Trail Blazers. Time to make your name mean what it sounds like.