Right-wing religious group aims to legalize anti-gay discrimination in Oregon

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In efforts to keep gay couples from exercising their basic rights, the Oregon Family Council—a right-wing religious group—has filed for a ballot initiative that would give businesses the right to discriminate against gays for religious reasons.

The group is hoping this method will keep the LGBT community from being able to access services and goods for weddings.

The official initiative follows an investigation in which Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian followed up on a complaint against a Gresham bakery that refused to provide a cake for a marriage between two women. According to Opposing Views, the bakery received so many threats after the baker and her husband refused after the January incident that they later closed their business.

“We are deeply concerned that even Oregon elected officials are becoming hostile towards religious freedom,” said Teresa Harke, spokeswoman for Friends of Religious Freedom, a group formed to support the initiative campaign.

Harke said that her group would focus on passage of the Protect Religious Freedom Initiative, suggesting that it has abandoned plans to campaign against passage of the marriage equality initiative. Harke is also the communications director for the Oregon Family Council, a separate group which is opposing the planned initiative that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

Wording for the group’s Protect Religious Freedom Initiative must first be approved by state officials before it can begin collecting the 87,000 valid signatures needed to reach the 2014 ballot.

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