Li & Kennedy v. Oregon Case Profile

Li & Kennedy v. Oregon - Case Profile

Steve Knox and Eric Warshaw, Plaintiffs in the Oregon marriage
challenge, stand between retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice
Betty Roberts, who performed their wedding service.

The ACLU has asked the Oregon Supreme Court to rule that the Oregon Constitution requires same-sex couples to receive the same legal protections as heterosexual couples who marry. Following the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples by Multnomah Counrty in March 2004, the ACLU brought a lawsuit against the state on behalf of nine same-sex couples and Basic Rights Oregon that charges that it's a violation of the state constitution's guarantees of fairness and equality to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

Status: The Oregon Supreme Court declined to address whether the Oregon constitution requires the state to afford same-sex couples the same legal protections as opposite-sex couples who marry. 

Press Releases

Legal Documents

Profiles of Some of the Plaintiff Couples

Mary Li and Becky Kennedy were the first couple to receive a marriage license from Multnomah County. They have been in a committed relationship for more than three years and have a nine-month-old daughter. Mary understands very clearly what it's like to face discrimination in marriage. Her father, who is Chinese, married her mother, who is white, in 1963, before the United States Supreme Court finally said that it is unconstitutional for any state to bar marriages between people of different races.

Katie Potter and Pam Moen, both police officers in Portland, met on the job in 1990 and got married in Portland the first day Multnomah County issued licenses to same-sex couples. They are the proud moms of two daughters, a four-year-old and a one-year-old. Because of the nature of their jobs, Katie and Pam constantly worry about how they would protect their family if one of them were killed or injured in the line of duty. Unfortunately, they are denied many protections, including a $25,000 payment that would go to the survivor if one of them were killed on duty, as well as health, education and mortgage benefits, available to their straight colleagues who marry.

Sally Sheklow and Enid Lefton of Lane County have been together for over 17 years. They were married by a rabbi at a commitment ceremony in Eugene in 1998 and would now like to make their marriage legal. Because Sally and Enid are unable to marry legally, Enid cannot cover Sally through her employer sponsored health plan. Sally, a 53-year-old self-employed writer and part-time teacher, makes slightly too much money to qualify for Medicaid coverage and is unable to find a private insurer willing to provide coverage to her.

Walter Frankel and Curtis Kiefer, together for 23 years, were planning to obtain a marriage license in Benton County before the county commissioners decided to stop the issuance of all licenses. As they near retirement age, Walter, who is 65, and Curtis, who is 52, have become increasingly concerned about their ability to take care of each other in their later years. Because they can't marry, they are denied many benefits including pension and Social Security coverage as well as hospital visitation and the right to make emergency medical decisions for each other. The couple has already experienced some of this discrimination. When Curtis's mother was dying in the intensive care unit, Walter was permitted to visit only after Curtis was forced to plead with the hospital.

Stay Informed