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Austin Cline

Court: Oregon Must Register Gay Marriages

By July 12, 2004

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For a short time, officials in Multnomah County, Oregon granted marriage licenses to gay couples - the county attorney said that refusing to do so would be unconstitutional. Now, the state has been ordered to register them - more than 3,000 in all.

Gay.com reports:

The marriages were supposed to have been registered last month in accord with a ruling last April, but the appellate court had temporarily stayed the ruling while it considered the state's request more thoroughly. ... In April, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Frank Bearden ruled that Oregon's marriage laws violated the state constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples.
Bearden suspended the same-sex weddings that had been taking place in the state during several weeks in March and April and said he would allow the Oregon Legislature to try to resolve the situation. But he also ruled that the 3,022 same-sex couples already married in Oregon must have their marriages registered by the state -- a condition that was reinforced by Friday's decision.

If the state goes ahead with this order instead of appealing to the state’s Supreme Court, then those same-sex couples will have all of the same civil and secular benefits that straight married couples have. These will be valid marriages according to Oregon law, which means that the state and all private entities will have to recognize these unions insofar as they recognize any marriages at all (for example, when it comes to employee benefits).

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