Federal Court to Hear Arguments in Challenge to Oregon Marriage Ban

Affiliate: ACLU of Oregon
April 23, 2014 12:00 am

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EUGENE, Ore. – A federal court will hear arguments today in a challenge to Oregon’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. The challenge was filed on behalf of two same-sex couples and Basic Rights Education Fund by the American Civil Liberties Union; the ACLU of Oregon; Perkins Coie, LLP; and Johnson, Johnson & Schaller, PC.

“We stand today with our friends and allies in Oregon in the fight for the freedom to marry,” said Amanda Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “We trust that the court will do the right thing and allow Oregon to join the ever-growing number of states across the country that grant the same protections and dignity to these families as anyone else.”

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced in February that the state would not defend the ban in court. “Sexual orientation does not determine an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and enduring relationship,” she wrote in a brief filed with the court. “The ban cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review.”

Public support for the freedom to marry in Oregon is at a record high of 55 percent. More than 160,000 Oregonians have signed a petition to qualify a constitutional amendment overturning the marriage ban for the November ballot.

Similar marriage equality cases are making their way through courts all around the country. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down the heart of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year in the ACLU case U.S. v. Windsor, every federal judge who has ruled on a marriage case has ruled in favor of marriage equality.

“No one should be singled out for unfair treatment and discrimination because of who they are and whom they love,” said Jeana Frazzini, the executive director of Basic Rights Oregon. “Marriage is a fundamental freedom, and freedom means freedom for everyone.”

On Monday evening, the National Organization for Marriage, an anti-LGBT organization in Washington D.C., filed a motion to intervene in the case in defense of the ban and asked to postpone arguments. Judge McShane denied the motion to postpone, allowing today’s arguments to go on as scheduled, and set a hearing on the motion to intervene for May 14.

This is the second challenge to Oregon’s marriage ban to be filed. In October, attorneys Lake Perriguey and Lea Ann Easton filed the first case, Geiger v. Kitzhaber, on behalf of two couples. The two cases have been consolidated.

A report issued this month by UCLA’s Williams Institute estimates that allowing same-sex couples to marry would boost Oregon’s economy by $47.3 million over the course of the first three years, with $30.3 million in the first year alone. The analysis also predicts that wedding-related spending and tourism would generate more than 450 new jobs throughout the state.

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