New amendments proposed to state constitution by Oregon lawmakers

SALEM, Ore. (KGW) — Oregon Democrats want to change the state constitution to ensure the right to abortion, the right to same-sex marriage and gender-affirming care.

Despite Oregon’s already-strong protections and laws in these areas. Advocates say the proposal is a response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and federal abortion rights, along with anti-abortion and anti-transgender legislation being passed in other states.

“We have really strong laws for LGBTQ+ folks and healthcare access for women in Oregon, but we have to pay attention to what’s happening nationally right now,” said Blair Stenvick, communications manager for Basic Rights Oregon, an advocacy group that is supporting the measure.

Stenvick said the introduction of this constitutional amendment makes sense now with Oregon’s current Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

They said Basic Rights Oregon, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, and other organizations feel that these constitutional protections would pass in a statewide vote.

“Oregon values really align with this ballot measure,” Stenvick said. “Oregonians really value the freedom to be who you are, marry who you love, and get the healthcare access that you and your doctor see is necessary. We feel good about getting this passed now so we don’t have to worry so much in the future.”

RELATED: Oregon bill on abortion, gender-affirming care sparks debate

If Senate Joint Resolution 33 gets approval from state lawmakers, Oregonians would vote on the proposed constitutional amendment in November 2024.

SJR 33 would also remove language that bans gay marriage from Oregon’s constitution — language that hasn’t had any effect since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015.

“We’ve known for years that the Oregon Constitution still says that marriage is between one man and one woman,” Stenvick said. “But (the Supreme Court decision) could be overturned and marriage equality would be an open question in Oregon, which I know is really scary for a lot of LGBTQ+ folks who call the state home.”

While SJR 33 was first introduced on Wednesday, Republicans in the Oregon legislature have said the proposed constitutional protections could have broader implications, such as potentially setting a right for minors to access abortion services without parental knowledge.

Oregon law currently allows minors 15 and older to provide consent for medical services, including abortion.

Supporters of SJR 33, such as Stenvick, said this ballot measure wouldn’t affect state law and doesn’t touch on the age of consent.

The Oregon state constitution already protects the equality of rights on the basis of sex.

SJR 33 would add the following language:

  • Pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes or related health decisions
  • Gender identity or related health decisions
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender

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