On May 19, 2014, Oregon became the nineteenth jurisdiction with the freedom to marry for same-sex couples when a federal judge struck down an anti-marriage constitutional amendment in the state that restricted marriage to different-sex couples. The decision took effect immediately, and same-sex couples began marrying just minutes after the ruling.
Freedom to Marry worked closely with state and national partners in Oregon to form and lead Oregon United for Marriage, a coalition to win marriage in Oregon. Originally designed as a ballot campaign set to win the freedom to marry in the November 2014 election, the campaign shifted to become a public education campaign around two federal court cases in 2014.
As the cases made their way up through the courts, Oregon United for Marriage and others across the state engaged in conversations about why marriage matters and created a climate for victory.
In March 2004, the Multnomah County in Oregon began issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples, but after a months-long back-and-forth in the courts, these marriage licenses were declared invalid.
In November 2004, anti-gay forces in Oregon pushed through Ballot Measure 36, a constitutional amendment that excludes same-sex couples from marriage and prohibits same-sex couples from attaining any form of legal family status.
On May 9, 2007, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed a broad domestic partnership bill after it was approved by the state legislature. The law - which provides some, but not all, of the protections that marriage affords - went into effect on February 1, 2008.
On October 18, 2013, Oregon began honoring the marriages of same-sex couples who legally married out of state.
GROUPS THAT WORKED ON MARRIAGE:
- Oregon United for Marriage was the coalition dedicated to securing the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, initially leading the campaign to make Oregon the first state to proactively amend the constitution at the ballot in support of the freedom to marry and later taking advantage of a faster route to the freedom to marry in the courts.
- Basic Rights Oregon is Oregon's central state organization committed to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- The ACLU of Oregon works to protect the rights and liberties of all Oregonians through lobbying, litigation and education.
- Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.
Oregon residents strongly support the freedom to marry, with 55% of respondents now saying they favor the freedom to marry. (Oregon Live, May 2014)
NUMBER OF SAME-SEX COUPLES:
According to The Williams Institute's analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census, 11,773 same-sex couples are living in Oregon, representing 7.8 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.
Blog Posts Related to Oregon
Today Judge Michael McShane struck down Oregon’s discriminatory state constitutional amendment that denies committed gay couples the freedom to marry, ruling that it violates the U.S. Constitution.
Today, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced that the state of Oregon will not defend laws in Oregon that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying in the state.
2013 was a great year, and we've come so far - but we're not done yet. 2014 will be another big year for marriage as we work to fuel campaigns to win marriage this year, lay the groundwork for further momentum for future years, and fuel the conversation about why marriage matters for all families.
Resources Related to Oregon
A survey of the national marriage landscape and guide for same-sex couples married by the Coquille Indian Tribe.
An article on the first same-sex couple to legally wed in the Coquille Tribe.
Handouts used in Oregon’s public education campaign about why marriage matters to gay and lesbian couples.