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Same-sex marriage (SSM) and domestic partnerships

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In Oregon state

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Contrasting quotations:

bullet "If marriage means everything, it means absolutely nothing." Dr. James C. Dobson, of Focus on the Family.

bullet "A loving man and woman in a committed relationship can marry. Dogs, no matter what their relationship, are not allowed to marry. How should society treat gays and lesbians in committed relationships? As dogs or as humans?" A posting to an Internet mailing list; used by permission of the author.

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Timeline of activities related to same-sex marriage:

  • 2004: Multnomah County, OR, which includes Portland, issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples, resulting in about 3,000 marriages. A plebiscite called "Measure 36" was held on election day in 2004-NOV to amend the constitution to prevent same-sex marriages. It passed with about 56% in favor to 44% opposed.

  • 2005: The Oregon Supreme Court ruled that all of the 3,000 same-sex marriages were not valid. The couples were thus forcibly divorced against their will.

  • 2007: Domestic Partnerships were legalized by the Legislature. Registered same-sex couples picked up about 500 state rights, benefits and protections for themselves and their children that were previously restricted to married opposite-sex couples. However, about 1,100 federal rights, benefits, and protections remained still out of reach.

  • 2012: The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) created a graph using data from many public opinion surveys in Oregon taken between 2011-JUN and 2012-DEC. They show that adults in that state have been following the national trend: Prior to mid-2012, opposition to SSM exceeded support. After that time, support rapidly grew so that by year end, most adults favored SSM with a margin of about 11 percentage points.

  • 2013-OCT: Same-sex couples launch federal lawsuit to legalize SSM in Oregon: Two same-sex couples initiated a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Eugene by Portland attorneys Lake Perriguey and Lea Ann Easton on behalf of two same-sex couples. One couple, Deanna Geiger and Janine Nelson, is seeking the right to marry in Oregon. A second couple, Robert Deuhmig and William Griesar were legally married in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and want to have their marriage recognized in Oregon.

  • 2013-OCT: In a major move, the state of Oregon decided to grant same-sex couples who have been legally married outside of Oregon full marriage rights. They can marry in one of those U.S. states that has legalized SSM, or the District of Columbia, or in a country -- like Canada -- where SSMs are also legal. When they return to Oregon, the state recognizes their marriages as valid. Washington state is immediately to the North of Oregon, California is immediately to the South. and Hawaii to the west have all legalized SSMs. So, loving, committed same-sex couples can choose from a variety of nearby states in which to marry.

  • 2013-NOV: Oregon United for Marriage has collected almost enough signatures to place a citizen initiative on the 2014-NOV ballot to legalize SSM in the state. A separate part of the initiative would guarantee clergy, congregations, and denominations the right to discriminate against same-sex couples with impunity if they wish to refuse to solemnize their marriages. The latter part of the initiative is redundant because the right of clergy and religious groups to discriminate against any couple according to the faith group's rules is already guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Clergy have been refusing to marry couples for various racial, religious, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and other reasons without interference from the government for centuries. However, many conservative Christians are unconvinced of the Constitution's protection. Adding the second part would increase the certainty that the initiative would be passed.

    Duncan Sennett, 13, gave his Bar Mitzvah speech at a reform Jewish congregation Oregon. He discussed the many redefinitions of marriage between the time that the Torah was written and now. It was posted to You Tube and went viral, with over 194,000 views by 2014-APR-03. 1

The Oregon Family Council, a conservative Christian organization that had played a major role in promoting the 2004 constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriages being solemnized in Oregon has organized two new groups:

  • Friends of Religious Freedom" filed a "Protect Religious Freedom Initiative" in order to allow business owners and companies to freely discriminate against same-sex couples by refusing to supply goods and services for same-sex weddings -- items like wedding cakes, wedding photographs, etc. "Think Progress," a liberal political group, referred to the Council's proposal as a "right to discriminate initiative." The initiative would give companies and business owners in the state immunity from prosecution under human rights legislation"

    Spokesperson Theresa Harke looks upon the Initiative not as an attempt to discriminate against the LGBT community, but as an attempt to protect religious freedom. She said:

    "Our bill is very narrow. It only creates a religious protection for individuals who do not want to participate in same-sex ceremonies.... All other nondiscrimination laws would remain intact."

  • Protect Marriage Oregon. Its purpose is to oppose the proposed Oregon United for Marriage citizen initiative and retain marriage inequality.
  • 2013-DEC-08: Oregon United for Marriage reached their goal of 116,284 signatures needed to qualify for the 2014 ballot. They continue to collect signatures in order to achieve a surplus in case some of the signatures are disqualified. Also, collecting signatures gives the opportunity to discuss same-sex marriage with the public and perhaps to sway public opinion. 2

  • 2014-MAY-19: District Court Judge Michael McShane ruled that Oregon's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage discriminates:

    "... on the basis of sexual orientation without a rational relationship to any legitimate government interest, the laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution."

    This is the 13th similar ruling since 2013-JUN by a District Court judge seeking marriage equality. All 13 have favored allowing same-sex couples to marry. All court decisions were based on the due-process clause and/or the equal protection clauses of 14th Amendment. There are over 70 other active lawsuits in other states regarding same-sex marriage which are currently awaiting rulings. Every state that currently bans same-sex marriage has at least one active lawsuit in federal or state court.

Apparently, nobody in a position of authority who has legal standing and thus could ask for a stay of the court ruling or request an appeal to the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals is inclined to do either. It appears that same-sex marriage is here to stay in Oregon, making a swath of states on the west coast attaining marriage equality. This is the 18th state to attain marriage equality. It is the 19th U.S. political jurisdiction if one includes the District of Columbia.

The next state to attain marriage equality was Pennsylvania. That also happened during 2014-MAY.

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Topics covered in this section:

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Reference used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Duncan's Bar Mitzvah - A Call for Freedom to Marry," Congregation Beth Israel, 2013-NOV-26, at: https://www.youtube.com/
  2. Carlos Santoscoy, "Oregon Campaign For Gay Marriage Hits Signature Goal," On Top, 2013-DEC-08, at: http://www.ontopmag.com/

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Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > here

Copyright © 2013 & 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2013-DEC-06
Latest update: 2014-JUN-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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