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Marriage Equality Continues to Prevail in Multnomah!

Multnomah County Chair Diane Linn says the AG's opinion offers the county no protection for lawsuit if they begin denying same-sex couples marriage licenses.
11:38 a.m - Linn says Multnomah County will continue granting licenses
Press release from Diane M. Linn, Multnomah County Chair

The Attorney General's opinion released Friday concludes that it is likely unconstitutional to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.

As an independent jurisdiction we needed the opportunity to thoughtfully review any implications of the advisory opinion. On Friday, I asked the County Attorney to analyze the Attorney General's opinion to answer one major question:

Can the county rely on the attorney general's opinion that the marriage statute prohibits issuing licenses to same sex couples to defend us from being sued successfully if we deny a request?

The conclusion is that the attorney general's opinion offers no assurance whatsoever that Multnomah County will not be sued successfully by any same sex couple who is denied a license while it waits for the issue to get to the Supreme Court.

In fact, if anything, the risk is greater than previously with what is now the fourth opinion that states that denial of licenses is likely unconstitutional.

Without any legal shield for liability it is extremely imprudent to risk the assets of this jurisdiction.

Based on this analysis, I have decided on these next steps.

1) We will work with the attorney general and the Governor to help fulfill the promise to get this to the Supreme Court as expeditiously as possible. I have asked the County Attorney to contact Hardy Myers to begin those discussions and I will be in direct contact with the Governor.

On a personal note, I have known and worked with Governor Kulongoski for nearly 20 years. We have agreed on almost every policy. On this issue, we are approaching it differently. I appreciate his position and am confident that we'll continue to have a strong working relationship into the future.

2) Multnomah County will continue to issue marriage licenses to all couples, consistent with the Oregon Constitution, until such time as the Supreme Court of Oregon or the citizens of Oregon dictate another course of action.

We respect those who disagree or remain uncomfortable with this practice and encourage citizens to continue the public debate, in which we will continue to participate.

"The only way to get equality is for two people to get the same thing at the same time at the same place" - Thurgood Marshall
Marriage is not a government office 15.Mar.2004 12:24

Mother (who is somewhere on the queer rainbow)

Mother thinks it is great that she lives in PDX where the government finally recognizes queers as able to form meaningful bonds with each other, just like real people do. However... Mother also thinks marriage is none of the government's business and the whole idea of "licensing" marriage is ridiculous. Mother will make a historically unresearched guess that "legal" marriage comes from the same religious roots as the now mostly defunct blue laws. Marriage is a personal choice, or a religious one, and should be kept in those spheres. It is none of the MAN's fucking business.

do you think 15.Mar.2004 13:32


that it is possible that the original intent with licensing came from the idea that women were property and in fact marriage was a business contract? and also that the products of the business, the children, were also part of the company and therefore it was necessary to cover the expenses etc. I know this may sound a bit mercenary, but ancient religous law, for example in the time of Moses, allowed a man to put aside his wife merely by stating 'I put you aside' (divorce you) three times publically. The woman was then on her own.
I read a fascinating book on marriage and the business/ property aspects of it many years ago and I think I will will try to track it down.
I agree with you Mother that the love, commitment part of marriage has nothing to do with the state. I did raise children however and i raised them on my own -- without the state/business/contract I would have been destitute as the father of the children was abusive and vindictive and did not want to help support them. Perhaps the state license part is about protecting the vulnerable. When there is truly equality in work/wages coupled with adequate, affordable child care and a recompense for those who do work hard to care for the next generation of human beings such business arrangements as marriage may not be necessary.
AND, when such issues are not at stake -- I honestly wonder why marriage?
When the county starting issuing licenses to same sex partners I couldn't decide whether to go down and cheer them on or try to warn the couples to think carefuly about the ramifications of marriage and tell them "don't do it!!!" But then, I had a bad expereince and others would think differently.
sorry this is so long.

Marriage = Legal responsibility 15.Mar.2004 15:29


Having recently married in a civil ceremony in Portland I have come to see the institution of marriage as based more on legalities than anything else. Two people can choose to live together and maintain a personal or spiritual marriage or relationship, but the only thing that really changes when you sign that paper is that:
Your spouse can make decisions about your medical care
You have social security survivor's benefits
You can get on each other's health insurance plans
You can transfer large amounts of money between the two of you without reporting it.
Your children are both of yours-- you don't have to worry about whether your partner has custody or anything.
If your spouse is an immigrant, you the citizen have to sign a waiver saying you will be responsible for paying back any public assistance your spouse receives for the next five years-- you have to do this to continue with your immigration case.
Granted, most people would think of many of these benefits as good ones for a couple committed to each other, and something that all people are entitled to, but ultimately our definitions of marriage are our own, not the state's or anyone else's.