Task Force hails court decision allowing Oregon’s domestic partnership law to take effect

February 05, 2008

Roberta Sklar, Communications Director
(Office) 646.358.1465
(Cell) 917.704.6358

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 — Oregon’s domestic partnership law took effect Monday, following a federal court ruling late Friday upholding a decision by state election officials that opponents of the law failed to gather the necessary signatures to place the law on the ballot for referendum.

The law, which passed the Legislature on May 2, 2007, was originally scheduled to take effect on Jan. 2, 2008. Its implementation was delayed when out-of-state anti-LGBT groups sued to stop its enforcement claiming that Oregon election officials should have reconsidered invalid signatures submitted during a failed attempt to refer the law to the ballot for repeal.

Oregon is the seventh state to offer broad protections under state law to same-sex couples. Massachusetts allows same-sex couples to marry. Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire and New Jersey have civil union laws and California’s domestic partnership law offers same-sex couples almost all the rights and responsibilities afforded married couples. (Maine, Washington state and the District of Columbia have more limited domestic partnership laws.)

Since 1988, Oregon has voted on five statewide anti-gay ballot measures, more than any other state. Three have been defeated. In 1988, voters approved a measure overturning an executive order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in public employment (57 percent to 43 percent) and in 2004 voters amended the state constitution to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriage (57 percent to 43 percent).

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has been a longtime partner of Basic Rights Oregon, the statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights group. For more than a decade, the Task Force has provided trainings, technical assistance, and staff to assist on campaigns and direct grants to support the programs of Basic Rights Oregon, including the Task Force Action Fund donating nearly $900,000 in cash and sending 10 organizers to help staff the campaign to defeat the 2004 amendment.

Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“This victory is especially sweet since Oregon has been on the frontline of unrelenting attacks by forces viciously opposed to equality for gay people for nearly 20 years. It’s time now — at long last — for our Oregon families to enjoy the protections they won last May.”

The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.