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July 20, 2007
V 35 Issue 29

 
 
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Oregon Court rules Oregon laws unconstitutional
Oregon Court rules Oregon laws unconstitutional
Judge orders implementation of Domestic Partnership law as remedy

PORTLAND, Oregon -- A Multnomah County Circuit Court judge found that two Oregon state laws violate the state's constitution by discriminating against families headed by same-gender couples.

"This decision is a tremendous win for children, for families, and for our shared Oregon value of basic fairness," said John Hummel, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon. "It validates the need for Oregon's new Domestic Partnership law to be implemented - not unnecessarily delayed or overturned by a referendum vote."

Judge Eric Bloch's decision in Parman v. Oregon et al holds that two Oregon laws (ORS 109.070 and ORS 109.243) granting parental rights to married couples unconstitutionally discriminate against families headed by same-gender couples.

Based on the landmark 1998 Tanner v. OHSU decision, Judge Bloch found that assigning benefits based on marriage, while not permitting same-sex couples access to these benefits, constitutes illegal discrimination against certain families. Plaintiffs in the case include K.D. Parman, 32, partner of nine years Jeana Frazzini, 34, and their two sons Emmett, 4, and Griffin, 1.

"We're thrilled by Judge Bloch's decision. Our family is really no different from any other family. We simply want to be treated fairly under the law, for our kids to have the same opportunities as any other child to succeed and thrive, and to do everything in our power to keep them safe. And that includes legal recognition for our family as a family," said Parman.

The decision brings Oregon's independent judicial branch into agreement with the Governor and Legislature, that that the state does in fact illegally discriminate against the families of same-sex couples, and that the Oregon Constitution requires this discrimination to end. As a remedy, Judge Bloch found that Oregon's new Domestic Partnership to be one permissible solution to the problem, provided it goes into effect as scheduled on January 1, 2008. However, the future of Oregon's new Domestic Partnership law - and the future of many Oregon families - is still in jeopardy.

A signature-collection effort designed to delay and ultimately overturn Oregon's new Domestic Partnership law is already underway. Should this effort be successful, and Oregon's new Domestic Partnership Law be placed on the ballot, implementation of this law will be unnecessarily delayed until after the November 2008 election, and the law could be overturned altogether.

"We now know that delaying or overturning Oregon's Domestic Partnership law would not only hurt many children and families, it could precipitate a constitutional crisis," said Hummel. "Oregon's Domestic Partnership law must be allowed to go into effect on January 1st, 2008 - without delay... as required by Oregon's constitution, and for the sake of Oregon's children and families."

"From our family to all other Oregon families - we ask you NOT to sign the petitions that are designed to overturn Oregon's new Domestic Partnership law," urged Frazzini. "Please don't shut our family out from the ability to care for those we love."

Basic Rights Oregon is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, statewide advocacy organization whose mission is to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Oregon. For more information, please visit our website at www.basicrights.org.

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