March 15, 2004


PORTLAND, OR -- Multnomah County officials today courageously announced a decision to follow the Oregon constitution and 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."

Today'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 today 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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