April 20, 2004
Category: Civil Unions
HRC Praises Decision Recognizing Oregon Marriages
'Judge Bearden recognized that Oregon can't differentiate between opposite-sex and same-sex couples when doling out the rights of marriage,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign commended an Oregon judge's ruling that supports giving same-sex couples the right to marry.
A state judge struck down an Oregon law today that blocked same-sex couples from marrying and ordered the state to recognize the 3,000 marriages of same-sex couples that have already taken place in Oregon. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Frank Bearden also issued a 90-day stay on marriages of same-sex couples until the Legislature could decide how to treat the couples in the future - by extending marriage or adopting a system like Vermont's civil unions.
"Judge Bearden recognized that Oregon can't differentiate between opposite-sex and same-sex couples when doling out the rights of marriage," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "To do otherwise would be fundamentally wrong."
The decision came in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of nine same-sex couples and Basic Rights Oregon. The case is expected to be appealed.
"This is a truly historic day for all of the lesbian and gay people of Oregon, but especially for the 3,000 couples who have already married here," said Roey Thorpe, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon. "While you already know in your hearts that you are married, an Oregon court has just taken a giant step toward making sure the state treats your marriage just like all other marriages."
"We hope the appeals court recognizes that marriages, and only marriages, provide true equality for same-sex couples," added Jacques.
"Vermont's civil unions were a great step forward, but they provide only a limited portion of rights. We are hopeful that Oregon will give same-sex couples equal access to marriage - and all the rights it bestows."
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.