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Volume 34
Issue 14
 
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New legal strategy unveiled to achieve equality for Oregon same-sex couples
New legal strategy unveiled to achieve equality for Oregon same-sex couples
Basic Rights Oregon filed the first in a series of planned lawsuits Wednesday in Multnomah County court

PORTLAND, OR - At a press conference in Portland Wednesday morning, Basic Rights Oregon announced its newest strategy to advance equality in Oregon courts as it filed the first in a planned series of lawsuits designed to address the discrimination faced by Oregon same-sex couples because of the State of Oregon's failure to comply with the 1998 Oregon Court of Appeals decision in the case of Tanner v. OHSU.

Plaintiffs in the first case, Jeana Frazzini, 33, and partner of nine years K.D. Parman, 31, along with their son Emmett Rocco, 2, are suing the State of Oregon after it blocked Jeana from being listed as Emmett's parent on the child's birth certificate.

"Just as other parents, we carefully planned and conceived of Emmett and our hopes and dreams for a family as a couple," said Frazzini. "For the state to deny Emmett a second legal parent is a cruel dismissal of our family and a marked departure from the automatic status other Oregon parents take for granted."

The case of Parman v. Oregon is based upon two Oregon laws that give parental rights to married couples and their children. In Oregon, a child born during a marriage is automatically the legal child of both the husband and the wife at birth. This is true even when it is clear that the husband is not biological father. Similarly, a husband and wife who use artificial insemination to achieve a pregnancy are automatically the legal parents of the child. In these cases, the husband only rarely is the biological father. The protections of these laws are denied to Gay and Lesbian Oregonians and their children solely because of the parents' inability to marry.

The primary legal arguments behind this case and other planned litigation are based on the 1998 Tanner decision, which said that the State of Oregon is constitutionally prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation as it relates to state benefits, services, privileges and immunities. While it is commonplace for state governments to adjust existing policy and administrative rules to comply with new case law, Oregon did not take this step related to the Tanner decision. As a result, Gay and Lesbian Oregonians continue to face discrimination in areas including retirement benefits, parental rights and family protections, workers compensation and more.

"The State of Oregon has a responsibility at all levels to treat each of its citizens in accordance with the Oregon Constitution," said Basic Rights Oregon Executive Director Roey Thorpe. "To do anything less sends a message that some Oregonians are more deserving of equality under the law than others."

"Unfortunately," Thorpe continued, "The more than seven-year failure of the state to voluntarily comply with the Court of Appeals decision in Tanner has left us with no other option than to go back to court."



A Basic Rights Oregon press release

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