Landmark Freedom to Marry Victory!

ACLU of Oregon Applauds Decision that Brings Marriage Equality to Every State

Affiliate: ACLU of Oregon
June 26, 2015 12:45 pm

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PORTLAND, Ore.The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon (ACLU) applauds the landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court declaring same-sex couples have the freedom to marry and to receive equal respect for their marriages across America. Today’s decision by the high Court affirms the conclusion reached last year that Oregon’s marriage ban was unconstitutional.

“This is a momentous win for freedom, equality, inclusion, and above all, love. We can celebrate that America is a place where hearts and minds can change and we believe in liberty and justice for all,” said Jann Carson, associate director of the ACLU of Oregon.

In 2013, the ACLU of Oregon filed one of the two cases that successfully challenged Oregon’s marriage ban. On May 19, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane ruled that the state marriage ban violated the federal equal protection rights of same-sex couples wishing to marry.

“We are overjoyed with the Supreme Court’s decision today,” said Christine Tanner. She and her now wife, Lisa Chickadonz, were one of the four plaintiff couples, along with Basic Rights Oregon, who successfully challenged Oregon’s marriage ban with the help of the ACLU of Oregon. “The journey to reach this point has been a legal and emotional rollercoaster ride that has, for us, gone on for more than 25 years. To have the highest Court in our country end marriage discrimination once and for all is monumental. We are grateful that ride is finally over, not only for us but for families like ours across the nation.”

The Court’s decision in Obergefell is the culmination of decades of work to achieve legal recognition for same-sex relationships. The ACLU has been working for the rights of LGBT people since 1936, when it brought its first gay rights case. The organization also filed the first freedom to marry lawsuit for same-sex couples in 1970 in Minnesota, instigated a successful domestic partnership case in Oregon in the 1990s, represented Edie Windsor in her successful challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June 2013, and has filed sixteen federal court marriage lawsuits on behalf of same-sex couples since the Windsor decision, including the Oregon case and in two of the four cases combined in Obergefell.

Jennifer Middleton, board president of the ACLU of Oregon and one of the attorney’s in the ACLU of Oregon’s freedom to marry lawsuit last year, said “Today, the US Supreme Court has at last fulfilled our constitution’s promises of equality and liberty that have so long been denied lesbian and gay people. Now, the ACLU of Oregon will continue its work to ensure that LGBT people throughout the state enjoy the full and equal citizenship in their daily lives that this decision makes clear we deserve.”

Since the Court’s Windsor decision in 2013, the number of jurisdictions allowing same-sex couples to marry grew to include 37 states and the District of Columbia, with only 13 states refusing to allow or recognize marriages. This patchwork of relationship protections will now end. Going forward, if you’re married in one state, you’re married in every state.

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