Same-sex marriage in Oregon
|Legal recognition of
*Not yet in effect
Same-sex marriage in Oregon became legal on May 19, 2014 when a U.S. federal district court judge ruled that Oregon's 2004 state constitutional amendment banning such marriages violated the Equal Protection Clause of the federal constitution.
- 1 2004–05
- 2 2013–2014
- 3 Economic impact
- 4 Public opinion
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
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 Li and Kennedy v. 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.
The (now defunct) amendment reads: "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."
Oregon Supreme Court review
On December 15, 2004, the Oregon Supreme Court heard arguments in the appeal of Li and Kennedy v. 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 and Kennedy v. 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 continued. The campaign was endorsed by the Democratic Party of Oregon and various major businesses.
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. Two more couples and the Basic Rights Education Fund filed another same-sex marriage case on December 19, 2013, with this latter case captioned Rummell and West v. Kitzhaber.
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 ban "under any standard of review" and her office would no longer defend the ban in court. The plaintiffs in both Geiger and Rummell filed motions asking for summary judgment; this procedure used in cases where there are no material issues of fact requiring a trial, and a fast resolution is desired.
The court heard oral argument on motions for summary judgment in the consolidated lawsuit on April 23, 2014. While all parties present supported same-sex couples' right to marry, Judge McShane questioned whether Oregon voters should get another say on the issue, since they approved the amendment defining marriage; and whether to stay the ruling and await guidance from marriage equality cases pending in the U.S. courts of appeal, or to implement the ruling immediately. The court scheduled another oral argument session for May 14, where the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), an organization that opposes same-sex marriage, tried to qualify for intervention in the case. On May 14, Judge McShane rejected NOM's attempt to intervene in the case, ruling that the group was unreasonably late in filing its request to intervene and that it failed to convincingly demonstrate that it should be allowed to intervene on behalf of three anonymous Oregon-based members of NOM.
At noon on May 19, 2014, Judge McShane issued his opinion, ruling that the state's constitutional ban of same-sex marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. Same-sex couples throughout the state began immediately marrying, with most counties waiving the required 3-day waiting period between receiving a marriage license and solemnizing the marriage.
In response to Judge McShane's ruling, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) immediately asked the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to issue an emergency stay of McShane's ruling, though this was denied on grounds of lack of standing. NOM then filed a request on May 27, 2014, with Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy seeking to block Judge McShane's order. Justice Kennedy referred the matter to the entire Supreme Court. On June 4, 2014, the Supreme Court rejected NOM's request for a stay.
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. The state began recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages on October 18, 2013.
Oregon Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (2014)
The Oregon Same-Sex Marriage Amendment was to appear on the November 4, 2014 statewide ballot allowing same sex marriages to be performed in the state. However, following the court decision permitting same-sex marriage on May 19, the leading proponent of the measure, Oregon United for Marriage, announced that it would not proceed with the measure despite having received enough signatures.
With same-sex couples allowed to marry in Oregon, an April 2014 study by UCLA's Williams Institute found that allowing marriage for same-sex couples would add $47.3 million to Oregon's economy during the first three years. The study estimated allowing marriages for same-sex couples would also add 468 new jobs to Oregon’s economy.
A June 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that 48% of Oregon voters thought that marriage for same-sex couples 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 marriage for same-sex couples 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 marriage for same-sex couples 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 marriage for same-sex couples while 41% were opposed.
According to a May 2014 DHM Research poll, 58% of Oregon voters supported changing the Oregon constitution to allow marriage for same-sex couples, 36% were opposed and 6% were undecided.
- Mapes, Jeff (May 19, 2014). "Oregon gay marriage ban struck down by federal judge; same-sex marriages begin". The Oregonian. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
- "Gay Couples Marry As Portland Ore. Says 'I Do'". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on March 9, 2006. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
- "Judge upholds ban: A Marion County judge rejects constitutional challenges to last year's Ballot Measure 36". The Oregonian. Retrieved February 3, 2008.
- Parker, Jim; Abe Estimada (March 8, 2004). "Multnomah Co. judge refuses to halt same-sex marriages". KGW TV. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2007.
- Gregory A. Chaimov, Legislative Counsel (March 8, 2004). "Same-Sex Marriage: letter to Senator Kate Brown (Senate Democratic Leader)" (PDF). Retrieved February 3, 2008.
- Oregon Department of Justice: March 12, 2004, accessed November 1, 2012
- Law, Steve (March 16, 2004). "Same-sex weddings continue; validity in doubt". Salem Statesman Journal. Archived from the original on January 25, 2006. Retrieved March 29, 2007.
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- "Article XV, Section 5a". Oregon Constitution. WikiSource. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- "Mary Li and Rebecca Kennedy et al. v. State of Oregon et al.". Oregon Judicial Department. April 14, 2005. Retrieved November 23, 2008.
- "Backers of gay marriage will take their cause to Oregon ballot in 2014". Oregon Live. February 11, 2013.
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- Anna Staver (November 19, 2013). "Nike gives $280,000 to support same-sex marriage in Oregon". Statesman Journal.
- Erica Nochlin (October 15, 2013). "Lawsuit filed to overturn Oregon's same-sex marriage ban". KATU news.
- James Nichols (October 16, 2013). "Portland Trailblazers Back Gay Marriage, Becoming First NBA Team To Do So". Huffington Post.
- "Judge consolidates Oregon gay-marriage lawsuits". Washington Post. January 22, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
- Johnson, Chris (February 20, 2014). "Oregon AG won’t defend marriage ban in court". Washington Blade. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
- Mapes, Jeff (April 23, 2014). "Gay marriage: Judge Michael McShane provides little clue in how he will rule on Oregon case". The Oregonian. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- Mapes, Jeff (April 22, 2014). "Judge won't rule in Oregon gay marriage case until at least May 14 while he decides on intervenor". The Oregonian. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- Mapes, Jeff (May 14, 2014). "Gay marriage: Judge rejects attempt to intervene; ruling to overturn Oregon ban may follow".
- Hubbard, Saul (May 19, 2014). "Oregon’s gay marriage ban struck down".
- KGW Staff (May 19, 2014). "Gay couples getting married after Oregon ban overturned".
- Mapes, Jeff (May 19, 2014). "Ninth Circuit strikes down National Organization's request to halt judge's decision".
- Associated Press (May 27, 2014). "Group seeks SCOTUS stay of Oregon gay marriage decision".
- "Order List of the United States Supreme Court". Supreme Court of the United States. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
- "Supreme Court Rebuffs Call to End Same-Sex Marriages in Oregon". New York Times. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
- "NAT'L ORGANIZATION FOR MARRIAGE V. GEIGER, DEANNA L., ET AL.". Supreme Court of the United States. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
- Damewood, Andrea (October 16, 2013). "Oregon To Recognize Marriages of Gay Couples Wed Out of State". Willamette Week. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
- "Oregon Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (2014)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
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- "Gay marriage: Supreme Court declines to halt same-sex marriages in Oregon". The Oregonian. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
- "Study estimates same-sex marriage would boost Oregon economy by $47 million over 3 years". Statesman Journal. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
- Fitzgerald, E.G. "Estimating the Economic Boost of Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in Oregon". UCLA. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
- Public Policy Polling: Oregon in favor of legal gay marriage, Kitzhaber Solid
- Public Policy Polling: Oregon divided on gay marriage
- "Kitzhaber, Merkley lead potential foes". 12/7/2012. Public Policy Polling.
- DHM Research survey
- Poll: Oregon voters back PERS restructuring; support dropping for expansion of gun background checks
- "An incredible day for freedom to marry in Oregon". Oregon United For Marriage. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
- Wilson, Reid (May 8, 2014). "Gay marriage initiative leads by wide margin in Oregon". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
- Rummell and West v. Kitzhaber - Order
- Rummell and West v. Kitzhaber - Opinion
- Li & Kennedy v. Oregon Decision
- Oregon Defense of Marriage Coalition
- Oregon Department of Justice page devoted to same-sex marriage
- Basic Rights Oregon
- The Money Behind the 2004 Marriage Amendments—National Institute on Money in State Politics