FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PORTLAND, OR - The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit today challenging an Oregon law that discriminates against same-sex couples by denying them marriage and the rights and protections that come with it.
"Oregon's constitution doesn't allow people to be discriminated against because they are lesbian and gay, but that's exactly what Oregon's marriage law does," said Jann Carson, Associate Director of the ACLU of Oregon. "The lawsuit we filed today will help us get this issue addressed by the courts as quickly as possible so that same-sex couples will no longer have to face family hardships because they are unprotected by the law."
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of nine same-sex couples and Basic Rights Oregon, the state's largest LGBT advocacy group. Four of the couples are already married after receiving licenses in Multnomah County, two of the couples were hoping to get licenses from Benton County before that county's decision to stop issuing all marriage licenses, two couples were denied marriage licenses from the clerk in Lane County, and one of the couples has not applied yet.
"Marriage is a commitment shared by two people who love each other and agree to look out for each other during the good times and the bad," said Roey Thorpe, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon. "Two adults who make this personal choice to form a life-long commitment should not be denied the right to marry just because they are gay or lesbian."
The ACLU filed the lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit Court in accordance with an agreement among the parties already involved in cases, which began after Multnomah County started issuing licenses. The case is assigned to Judge Frank Bearden, who said he intends to move the case through the trial court quickly. Cases brought by the Defense of Marriage Coalition, which sought to invalidate the marriages of same-sex couples, will be dismissed on the condition that the Defense of Marriage Coalition is allowed to participate in the lawsuit filed today. Multnomah County will also be allowed to be a party in the litigation.
The couples represented by the ACLU include:
A hearing on the constitutional issues raised in the ACLU's complaint is expected in mid-April before Judge Bearden. The couples are represented by Ken Choe, a staff attorney for the National ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, and ACLU of Oregon cooperating attorney Lynn Nakamoto of Markowitz, Herbold, Glade & Mehlhaf of Portland.The Complaint is online at /cpredirect/12106