Marriage Licenses Continue for Same-Sex Couples in Oregon Despite False Reports of Court-Ordered Halt, ACLU Says

March 11, 2004

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PORTLAND, OR - Contrary to a false report from the Alliance Defense Fund, which has financed challenges to Multnomah County's issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the court has not ordered a halt to the licenses, the American Civil Liberties Union today confirmed. 

The fund's lawyers filed a second lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit Court today asking the court to stop the issuance of licenses. Following a brief hearing, Judge Koch simply said that he would require the County to respond at a future hearing. 

At that hearing, the ACLU will ask the court to allow it to enter the lawsuit on behalf of same-sex couples who have married in Oregon. 

"We believe that the courts will uphold Multnomah County's actions," said David Fidanque, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oregon. "The Oregon Bill of Rights is crystal clear that all Oregonians are entitled to the same rights and responsibilities that are granted with state recognition of marriage. Same-sex couples should not be discriminated against in marriage and need to protect their families just like all other families." 

A hearing date and further proceedings on the first lawsuit is expected to be announced following a scheduling conference to be held by attorneys with Judge Bearden on Friday morning.

Ken Choe, a staff attorney for the National ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, and ACLU of Oregon cooperating attorneys Lynn Nakamoto and Jeff Edelson of Portland are representing four same-sex couples as well as University of Oregon Law Professor Dominick Vetri, Basic Rights Oregon and the ACLU of Oregon as intervenors.

The ACLU of Oregon and Basic Rights Oregon had asked Multnomah County to change its policy and grant licenses to same sex couples. The County issued its first licenses to same sex couples on March 3. 

Couples who have been harmed because they are unable to protect their relationships are encouraged to contact the ACLU by e-mail at couples@aclu.org.

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