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Oregon Counties Will Continue to Perform Same-Sex Marriages

Multnomah County and Benton County are Providing Licenses

The State's Constitution Doesn't Specify Gender of Applicants

Compiled by GayToday
American Civil Liberties Union

Benton County, Oregon Commissioner Annabelle Jaramillo made the motion to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Corvallis, Oregon-- Following more than two-and-a-half 2 hours of public testimony Wednesday, Benton County Commissioners voted to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 24.

"We couldn't be more pleased with the Benton County Commission's actions," said David Fidanque, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. . "It was clear that the commissioners were deeply affected by the testimony they heard. In the end, they made a courageous decision to uphold the Oregon Constitution and to end marriage discrimination in Benton County. Other counties should do the same."

Fidanque, Oregon ACLU Board President Merry Demarest and ACLU Benton-Linn Chapter Co-Chairs Gordon Grant and Trish Daniels were among dozens of individuals who testified in support of ending marriage discrimination against same-sex couples.

Fidanque reminded the Commissioners they had taken an oath of office to uphold the Oregon and federal constitutions. He also recalled the case of a Japanese-American World War II veteran who was prohibited by Oregon law from owning land when he returned home.

"If you had been county commissioners in 1946 when Kenny Namba tried to record his property deed," Fidanque asked, "would you have told him he couldn't because the law didn't allow it? Or would you have looked at the Oregon Bill of Rights, which requires equal treatment for all citizens? The Oregon Constitution requires you to do the right thing and stop the discrimination against same-sex couples."

The motion to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples was made by Commissioner Annabelle Jaramillo and seconded by Commission Chair Linda Modrell. Commissioner Jay Dixon voted no.

Fidanque said it was not known before the meeting whether the Commissioners would immediatekly take action.

Portland, Oregon

On Monday, Multnomah County officials courageously announced their decision to continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a move applauded by Basic Rights Oregon and the American Civil Liberties Union.

"All public officials have a duty to enforce constitutional rights, including county commissioners in Oregon's 35 other counties and the Governor," said David Fidanque, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oregon. "We applaud Multnomah County's ongoing commitment to stop discrimination against same-sex couples wishing to marry in Oregon."

Monday's decision follows legal opinions from the Oregon Attorney General and Legislative Counsel, both of which found it likely that the Oregon constitution does not permit marriage discrimination against same-sex couples.

The ACLU and Basic Rights Oregon said they joined in the Governor's wish that this matter receive speedy and final adjudication in the Oregon Supreme Court, but were disappointed that the Governor would encourage counties to continue engaging in marriage discrimination in violation of the Oregon Constitution.

"On behalf of more than 2,000 same sex couples who have received marriage licenses here in Multnomah County, and all those who still wish to marry," said Basic Rights Oregon Executive Director Roey Thorpe, "and on behalf of couples in loving relationships, who live in our state and our community, who work and pay taxes and whose children attend our schools, we thank Multnomah County for doing the right thing."

The groups said they would continue to explore all legal options available to end marriage discrimination everywhere in the state of Oregon. Those options include filing a lawsuit in one or more of the counties that choose to ignore the state constitution.
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Related Sites
American Civil Liberties Union

Benton County Oregon