Same-sex marriage in Oregon
|Legal recognition of
The U.S. state of Oregon has recognized same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions since October 2013, but does not allow them to be performed within the state. Since 2004 the Oregon Constitution has stated: "It is the policy of Oregon, and its political subdivisions, that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage." However, domestic partnerships have been allowed since 2008.
Marriage licenses issued
On March 3, 2004, Multnomah County began issuing licenses to same-sex couples after its attorney issued a legal opinion that such marriages are lawful. On that day, Multnomah County issued 422 marriage licenses, compared to the 68 it issues on an average day. Local businesses reported an increase in the sales of flowers and other marriage-related services directly related to the beginning of same-sex marriages. According to the 2000 US Census, 3,242 same-sex couples were living in the county. Neighboring Washington and Clackamas Counties announced that they were studying Multnomah County's legal opinion, but did not plan to immediately follow suit.
At a hearing on March 9, 2004, after the county had issued approximately 1,700 marriage licenses to same-sex couples, County Circuit Judge Dale Koch refused to issue an injunction to stop the county from continuing the process. A later study by The Oregonian showed that the first week's 2,026 people from Multnomah County had received such licenses, while about 900 others came from other locations in Oregon, about 490 from the state of Washington, and 30 from other states.
On March 10, 2004, the State Legislature's Legislative Counsel, Greg Chaimov, issued an opinion that "state law requires a county clerk to license the marriage of a same-sex couple." The office of Attorney General Hardy Myers issued an opinion March 12, 2004, after reviewing it with the governor, that concluded that Oregon law prohibits county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples; that the Oregon Supreme Court would likely find denying such licenses violates Article I, Section 20 of the Oregon Constitution; but that current state practices should not change in anticipation of such a ruling. It also said that the Attorney General's office lacked the authority to order Multnomah County to cease issuing licenses for same-sex marriages.
On March 15, 2004, Multnomah County commissioners announced that they would continue to issue licenses to same-sex couples. On March 16, 2004, following public hearings, Benton County commissioners voted 2-1 to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on March 24, 2004, but they reversed their decision on March 22 after receiving two letters from the attorney general and a phone call threatening the arrest of the county clerk, and decided to issue no marriage license at all pending a decision by the Multnomah County Court.
With the consent of the state, three same-sex couples sued the state of Oregon in Multnomah County Court, including Mary Li and Rebecca Kennedy, the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license from Multnomah County. At a hearing before Judge Frank Bearden on April 16, 2004, in In Li & Kennedy vs. State of Oregon, the American Civil Liberties Union and Basic Rights Oregon represented the plaintiffs and the Oregon Department of Justice and the Defense of Marriage Coalition defended the state's position. On April 20, 2004, Bearden ordered the county to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses, and ordered the state to recognize the 3,022 same-sex marriage licenses already issued. The Oregon state registrar had been holding the completed licenses pending a court decision as to their validity, rather than entering them into the state's records system. Bearden also found that the Oregon Constitution would likely allow some form of marriage rights to same-sex couples, and directed the Legislature to act on the issue within 90 days of the start of its next session. He ruled that if the legislature failed to address the issue within that time, he would allow Multnomah County to resume issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It was understood that both parties would appeal the decision.
On July 9, 2004, the Court of Appeals lifted the temporary ban blocking the registration of the marriage licenses issued by Multnomah County. The state announcing that processing would take a week and began doing so within hours of the court's action.
2004 ballot initiative
On May 21, 2004, the Defense of Marriage Coalition received approval for the language of a proposed initiative to prohibit same-sex marriage. They began circulating petitions to obtain the 100,840 valid signatures needed by July 2 to place the initiative on the November ballot. On November 2, 2004, voters approved by a margin of 57% to 43% Ballot Measure 36, a constitutional amendment defining the marriage of a man and a woman as the only one recognized by the state. The Defense of Marriage Coalition said that Opponents of Measure 36 outspent their group more than 2 to 1.
Oregon Supreme Court review
On December 15, 2004, the Oregon Supreme Court heard arguments in the appeal of Li & Kennedy vs. State of Oregon. Oregon argued that Multnomah County lacked the authority to issue same-sex marriage licenses and that Ballot Measure 36 was retroactive, making the issue of those licenses moot. The Defense of Marriage Coalition argued that Measure 36 was not retroactive, there had been no constitutional violation of the rights of same-sex couples, and Multnomah County did not have the authority to issue same-sex marriage licenses even to remedy a constitutional violation. The ACLU argued that Measure 36 was not retroactive, that the rights of same-sex couples under the Equal Privileges and Immunities clause of the Oregon Constitution had been violated, and that counties are required to remedy perceived constitutional violations.
On April 14, 2005, the Oregon State Supreme Court decided Li & Kennedy vs. State of Oregon, ruling that Multnomah County lacked the authority to remedy a perceived violation of the Oregon Constitution and that all marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples were void when issued. The court noted that the Oregon Constitution had since been amended to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples and it therefore declined to rule as to whether or not same-sex couples had any rights under the Equal Privileges and Immunities clause of the Oregon Constitution.
In February 2013, Basic Rights Oregon, a LGBT rights organization, formed the group Oregon United For Marriage to put an initiative on the ballot in November 2014 to provide for the legal recognition of same-sex marriages. The initiative would replace the state's constitutional amendment restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples with the right of all persons to marry without respect to gender. On July 26, 2013, the petition campaign to get the required signatures was launched. By early December 2013, the 116,284 minimum required signatures had been reached, but signature collection will continue.
On October 15, 2013, two couples, a pair of unmarried lesbians and two men already married in Canada, filed a lawsuit, Geiger v. Kitzhaber, in U.S. District Court in Eugene, Oregon, challenging the Oregon constitution's ban on same-sex marriage. It made Oregon the 20th state to have a federal lawsuit challenging its ban on same-sex marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor (2013) invalidated part of the Defense of Marriage Act. A similar case was filed in December. On January 22, 2014, Judge Michael McShane consolidated the two lawsuits and scheduled oral arguments for April 23. On February 20, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum told the court that she believed "that performing same-sex marriages in Oregon would have no adverse effect on existing marriages, and that sexual orientation does not determine an individual's capacity to establish a loving and enduring relationship". She found it impossible to defend the state's "under any standard of review" and her office would no longer defend the ban in court.
Recognition of out-of-state marriages
On October 16, 2013, based on an opinion from the Oregon Department of Justice, the state's Chief Operating Officer Michael Jordan announced that Oregon would begin recognizing same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.
Oregon Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (2014)
The Oregon Same-Sex Marriage Amendment may appear on the November 4, 2014 statewide ballot allowing same sex marriages to be performed in the state.
A June 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that 48% of Oregon voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 42% thought it should be illegal and 11% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 76% of Oregon voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 43% supporting same-sex marriage, 33% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 22% favoring no legal recognition and 1% not sure.
A June 2012 Public Policy Polling survey found that 46% of Oregon voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 45% thought it should be illegal and 9% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 74% of Oregon voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 44% supporting same-sex marriage, 30% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 23% favoring no legal recognition and 3% not sure.
A December 2012 Public Policy Polling survey found that 54% of Oregon voters thought same-sex marriage should be allowed, while 40% thought it should not be allowed. 5% were not sure.
A February 2014 poll released by Oregon United For Marriage showed that 55% of the state supported same sex marriage while 41% were opposed. 
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