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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
April 22, 2005

Oregon top court nullifies 3,000 same-sex marriages

Portland, Ore.--The Oregon Supreme Court on April 14 nullified 3,000 marriages performed last year in Multnomah County.

The justices relied in part on the anti-marriage state constitutional amendment passed by voters in November, but also said that Oregon law prior to the amendment�s passage did not allow for same-sex marriage.

The ruling came in a case filed in March 2004 to force recognition of same-sex marriages in the state.

After the amendment passed, the couples involved in the suit, the organizations Basic Rights Oregon and the American Civil Liberties Union told the court that civil unions would be an appropriate remedy.

However, the justices argued that, since the suit originally asked for marriage, it would be improper to change the focus to civil unions.

�Today�s decision underscores the urgency for the state legislature to pass the civil union bill that was endorsed by Gov. Kulongoski yesterday,� Basic Rights Oregon executive director Roey Thorpe said. �This morning, 3,000 same-sex couples saw their hopes for family protections pulled right out from under them.�

�It�s time for our lawmakers to put politics aside and do right by these and all the other lesbian and gay couples in this state who need to be able to protect their families,� Thorpe added.

�I have always believed that all Oregonians have a right to fairness and equal opportunity, guaranteed under the law,� Kulongoski said in a statement to lawmakers. �As I said in January, we face a great moral challenge to make sure opportunity is an open door through which every citizen can pass, not a revolving door which turns for some but doesn�t budge for others.�

In addition to the civil union legislation, for which the Senate Rules Committee will soon schedule hearings, there are two bills in the state Senate and one in the House which would add sexual orientation, gender identity, or both to Oregon�s civil rights laws.

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