Oregon lawmakers want to enshrine rights to abortion, same-sex marriage, gender-affirming care into state’s Constitution

Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 10:41 AM PDT
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SALEM Ore. (KPTV) - Oregon Democrat lawmakers want voters to enshrine the rights to abortion, same-sex marriage and gender-affirming care into the state’s Constitution.

Senator Kate Lieber (D-Beaverton) submitted a joint resolution in the state Senate on Wednesday to refer a proposed constitutional amendment to voters, according to reporting by Oregon Public Broadcasting.

The amendment would delete wording in Oregon’s Constitution that has been in place since 2004 and defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.

That regulation has not been in place since a federal judge deemed it unlawful in 2014, a judgment confirmed by the United States Supreme Court in 2015, requiring states to recognize same-sex marriages.

SEE ALSO: Washington bill would allow transgender medical procedures for minors without parental consent

Oregon already has some of the best abortion and LGBTQ civil rights protections in the country.

“It really hurts to see your identity criminalized,” Sevens Baertsch Kovalchick, a Lake Oswego high schooler said.

It’s hard for Kovalchick to watch other states roll back people’s rights to abortion and gender-affirming care. But he said it makes him feel grateful to live in a state like Oregon, which has protected those rights, and his rights as a trans person, time and time again.

“I live in this kind of bubble of safety that a lot of people don’t have access to and I really wish that my lived experience in Oregon, in this safer state, was the lived experience of trans people all over the United States,” he said.

“It is sending this message of hope to all of those young people who are in states that are denying them those rights that are threatening their very being that we are going to say here in Oregon we see you, we value you and we want you to know you’re safe,” Senator Lieber said.

Amending the constitution to add these rights will make it harder to repeal later, but ultimately, this amendment will be left up to voters during the November 2024 general election, if this resolution makes it through this legislative session.

“Politicians in other states are able to roll back these rights because it’s not enshrined in their constitution so really this is Oregon voters’ opportunity to make sure it doesn’t happen here and it could,” Lieber said.

SEE ALSO: Oregon minimum wage raising July 1

A similar bill is making its way through the House which would greatly expand access to abortion and gender-affirming care. The most debated part about House Bill 2002 is the fact that it would give all minors reproductive healthcare rights, like an abortion, and prevent physicians from telling the minor’s guardian if they wish to keep that private.

Senate Republicans believe the proposed constitutional amendment is an extension of House Bill 2002. Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp sent this statement about SJR33:

“Democrats have come back with an attempt to seek retroactive approval of their extreme agenda. SJR 33 is a continuation of the Democrats’ extreme assault on parental rights. With this legislation, the Democrats now want to give 10-year-old girls a constitutional right to abortion without parental knowledge. They are also helping special interest groups to use taxpayer funds for their anti-parent political agenda.”