As a state legislator in 1991 I took and oath that directed me to uphold the Oregon Constitution. As a Multnomah County Commissioner, I again swore to uphold the Constitution of our State. I will honor my oath to office and defend the rights granted by our State Constitution.
Our County Attorney states. "Refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates Article 1, Section 20, of the Oregon Constitution... Multnomah County is required to act in accordance with the Constitution." We obtained a second opinion from the well-respected law firm, Stoel Rives. Their conclusions are the same. Our actions today are required by Oregon's Constitution, the highest law of our State. State law may be ambiguous, but Oregon's Constitution is crystal clear.
I personally am committed to equal rights and equal protection for every person in this country and in this state. It is my duty to support and fully embrace the fundamental tenets upon which out great nation is founded - that all people should be treated equally under the law.
Until 1951, Oregon citizens from different racial and ethnic backgrounds were forbidden to marry. Sadly, it was not until 1967, less then forty years ago, that the Supreme Court of the United States struck down all bans on interracial marriage. Justice Anthony Kennedy has wisely noted, "that the Constitution allows each generation to expand the terrain of freedom."
Another principal tenet upon which our country is founded is the separation between church and state. Our actions today have no effect on the practices of the churches or religious organizations in our community.
Same-sex couples want their relationships to have the same legal weight as the heterosexual relationships - the right to inherit assets, own their own homes jointly, and cover their families with health insurance. Multnomah County's issuance of marriage licenses will allow same-sex couples these rights. Our actions today demonstrate our commitment to civil rights and respect for diversity in our community.
CONSTITUTION OF OREGON Article 1, Section 20. Equality and immunities of citizens. No law shall be passed granting to any citizen or class of citizens privileges, or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall no equally belong to all citizens.