A Second County in Oregon Votes to Issue Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples; ACLU Urges Others to Do the Same

Affiliate: ACLU of Oregon
March 17, 2004 12:00 am

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CORVALLIS, OR — Following more than two-and-a-half 2 hours of public testimony yesterday, Benton County Commissioners voted to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 24.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the Benton County Commission’s actions,” said David Fidanque, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. . “It was clear that the commissioners were deeply affected by the testimony they heard. In the end, they made a courageous decision to uphold the Oregon Constitution and to end marriage discrimination in Benton County. Other counties should do the same.”

Fidanque, Oregon ACLU Board President Merry Demarest and ACLU Benton-Linn Chapter Co-Chairs Gordon Grant and Trish Daniels were among dozens of individuals who testified in support of ending marriage discrimination against same-sex couples.

Fidanque reminded the Commissioners they had taken an oath of office to uphold the Oregon and federal constitutions. He also recalled the case of a Japanese-American World War II veteran who was prohibited by Oregon law from owning land when he returned home.

“If you had been county commissioners in 1946 when Kenny Namba tried to record his property deed,” Fidanque asked, “would you have told him he couldn’t because the law didn’t allow it? Or would you have looked at the Oregon Bill of Rights, which requires equal treatment for all citizens? The Oregon Constitution requires you to do the right thing and stop the discrimination against same-sex couples.”

The motion to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples was made by Commissioner Annabelle Jaramillo and seconded by Commission Chair Linda Modrell. Commissioner Jay Dixon voted no.

Fidanque said it was not known before the meeting whether the Commissioners would take any action today.

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