A campaign in favour of a ballot to allow a ‘religious freedom’ exemption to anti-discrimination laws in Oregon has been dropped.

The Oregon Family Council had been pushing for a ballot on the measure, but said in a press release yesterday that it will now pursue a lawsuit on behalf of business owners instead.

On Thursday the Oregon Supreme Court had approved the Attorney General’s revised language for the proposed ballot, but the campaign labelled the changes ‘unacceptable’, and suspended its efforts.

Mike Marshall, campaign manager for Oregon United Against Discrimination, said: “hanks to the incredible outpouring of early opposition to this measure – more 462 organizations and leaders, including 190 businesses and 167 faith leaders have joined the Oregon United Against Discrimination coalition – Oregonians have realized that this measure would allow businesses to discriminate against people because of who they are and whom they love. And discrimination is just wrong.

“We are thrilled that the Oregon Family Council has suspended their IP 52 effort, likely realizing Oregonians wouldn’t support a measure that would allow discrimination.”

The approved ballot language said a Yes vote would “create a ‘religious belief’ exception to anti-discrimination laws”, which the Oregon Family Council claims was not a fair description.

They said in a statement: “The intent of IP52 is to end this religious discrimination in Oregon by providing individuals of faith with protection equal under the law to that of religious clergy.

“The certified ballot title does not acceptably state this. Indeed, it state it as intolerant instead of protecting equal rights of conscience.

“We have resolved to suspend IP52 and, instead back an enforcement lawsuit that will be filed shortly in Oregon on behalf of individuals of faith in expressive professions who are currently being coerced to violate their faiths.”

An Oregon court earlier this month heard unopposed opening arguments in favour of striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.