<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d8945590\x26blogName\x3dBasic+Rights+Oregon+-+gay+rights,+civ...\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://basicrights.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://basicrights.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d-4985118528740769765', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Li/Kennedy v. State of Oregon - Six Possibilities When The Supreme Court Rules

Saturday, March 26, 2005
Any week now, the Oregon Supreme Court could hand down a decision in the case of Li/Kennedy V. State of Oregon. Filed last March by Basic Rights Oregon, the ACLU and nine same-sex couples, the Li/Kennedy case could decide whether the Oregon constitution requires the state to make equal benefits and protections for same-sex relationships available via a civil union and whether the approximately 3,000 marriages entered into by same-sex couples in Oregon last year are valid.

The fact is, the outcome of this case could take many turns. While it is difficult to predict in which direction the decision will go, here are six possibilities and what we think they would mean for the future of equality in Oregon:

We Win Civil Unions & Same-Sex Marriages of 2004 Are Deemed Valid and Legal

The Ruling:

We win a declaration from the court that the State has a constitutional obligation to extend all of the benefits and protections of marriage to same-sex couples through a civil union system.

The court upholds those marriages performed last year as valid because they were lawfully entered into and Measure 36 can not retroactively invalidate those marriages.

What it Would Mean:

This decision is the win/win that we hope for and would represent an enormous victory for fairness and equality for same-sex couples and their families in the State of Oregon and a giant step forward in the struggle for full equality.

Basic Rights Oregon has drafted a civil union bill that would satisfy the court’s ruling and extend every benefit, protection and responsibility afforded to opposite-sex couples in Oregon through marriage, which could be quickly introduced after the decision.

We Win Civil Unions & Same-Sex Marriages of 2004 Are Nullified

The Ruling:

We win a declaration from the court that the State has a constitutional obligation to extend all of the benefits and protections of marriage to same-sex couples through a civil union system.

The court invalidates those marriages performed last year because it determines that they were not lawfully entered into or the court could rule that the marriages were valid prior to the passage of Measure 36, but can no longer be recognized by the State of Oregon because of the passage of Measure 36.

What it Would Mean:

This ruling would represent an enormous victory for fairness and equality for same-sex couples and their families in the State of Oregon and a giant step forward in the struggle for full equality.

It is clear, however, that this decision would also be an enormously difficult moment for same-sex couples who would see their marriages painfully revoked and a very sad time for all of us who know someone who would be personally affected in this way.

Basic Rights Oregon has drafted a civil union bill that would satisfy the court’s ruling and extend every benefit, protection and responsibility afforded to opposite-sex couples in Oregon through marriage, which could be quickly introduced after the decision.

We Do Not Win Civil Unions & Same-Sex Marriages of 2004 Are Nullified

The Ruling:

The court determines that there is no constitutional obligation to provide equal benefits and protections to same-sex relationships through a civil union or any other mechanism.

The court invalidates those marriages performed last year because it determines that they were unlawfully entered into or the court could rule that the marriages were valid prior to the passage of Measure 36, but can no longer be recognized by the State of Oregon because of the passage of Measure 36.

What it Would Mean:

This ruling would be a major setback for fairness and equality for same-sex couples and their families in the State of Oregon and a step backward in the struggle for full equality.

But, this decision would be the close of just one chapter in a long movement. It is not the end of the story or the end of our struggle. Growing public understanding and the momentum of history are on our side.

We wouldn’t give up. And, although our task certainly would become more difficult under this ruling, we would continue to call on the Oregon Legislature to act immediately to pass civil union legislation this session.

Basic Rights Oregon has drafted a civil union bill that would extend every benefit, protection and responsibility afforded to opposite-sex couples in Oregon through marriage, which could be quickly introduced after the decision.



The Li/Kennedy Case is Sent Back to the Trial Court & Same-Sex Marriages of 2004 Are Deemed Valid & Legal

The Ruling:

The court could determine that various parts of the case were not adequately considered by lower courts before being presented to the Supreme Court (for instance, new issues that arose as a result of the passage of Measure 36). Under such a scenario, the case would be sent back to the trial court that made the original ruling in the case for development of those issues.

The court upholds those marriages performed last year as valid because they were lawfully entered into and Measure 36 can not retroactively invalidate those marriages.

What it Would Mean:

This decision would represent an enormous victory for all same-sex couples married in Oregon in 2004 and for those elected officials who had the courage to honor their duty to uphold the constitution for all Oregonians equally.

While we would be disappointed in a ruling that would allow murky legal issues to persist for some time, this ruling would be significant in that the court would not have ruled against us on the fundamental merits of our case.

The experiences of the last year have made us more prepared than ever to successfully argue this case if we are required to do so again. We feel confident that, if not now, Oregon courts will eventually put an end to the exclusion of committed same-sex couples from the protections and responsibilities other Oregon couples count on.

If this litigation were to continue, it would allow us an ongoing opportunity to have a statewide conversation about how Oregon same-sex couples and their families are harmed by their exclusion from equal protections and responsibilities for their relationships.

In addition, this case would proceed along a path parallel to the legal challenge to Measure 36, filed in Marion County Court in January.

We wouldn’t give up. Basic Rights Oregon has drafted a civil union bill that would extend every benefit, protection and responsibility afforded to opposite-sex couples in Oregon through marriage, which could be quickly introduced after the decision.

We would continue to call on the Oregon Legislature to act immediately to pass civil union legislation this session and work step by step for full equality in the end.



The Li/Kennedy Case is Sent Back to the Trial Court & Same-Sex Marriages of 2004 Are Nullified

The Ruling:

The court could determine that various parts of the case were not adequately considered by lower courts before being presented to the Supreme Court (for instance, new issues as a result of the passage of Measure 36). Under such a scenario, the case would be sent back to the trial court that made the original ruling in the case for development of those issues.

The court invalidates those marriages performed last year because it determines that they were entered into unlawfully or the court could rule that the marriages were valid prior to the passage of Measure 36, but can no longer be recognized by the State of Oregon because of the passage of Measure 36.

What it Would Mean:

While we would be disappointed in a ruling that would allow murky legal issues to persist for some time, this ruling would be significant in that the court would not have ruled against us on the fundamental merits of our case.

The experiences of the last year have made us more prepared than ever to successfully argue this case if we are required to do so again. We feel confident that, if not now, Oregon courts will eventually put an end to the exclusion of committed same-sex couples from the protections and responsibilities other Oregon couples count on.

If this litigation continues, it will allow us an ongoing opportunity to have a statewide conversation about how Oregon same-sex couples and their families are harmed by their exclusion from equal protections and responsibilities for their relationships.

In addition, this case will proceed along a path parallel to the legal challenge to Measure 36, filed in Marion County Court in January.

The positive aspects of this decision, however, would be overshadowed by the enormously difficult moment for same-sex couples who would see their marriages painfully revoked and the sadness all of us would feel for our friends and family who would be personally affected in this way.

We won’t give up. We wouldn’t give up. Basic Rights Oregon has drafted a civil union bill that would extend every benefit, protection and responsibility afforded to opposite-sex couples in Oregon through marriage, which could be quickly introduced after the decision.

We will continue to call on the Oregon Legislature to act immediately to pass civil union legislation this session and work step by step for full equality in the end.



The Li/Kennedy Case is Sent Back to the Trial Court With No Ruling on Any Issues in the Case

The Ruling:

The court could determine that various parts of the case were not adequately considered by lower courts before being presented to the Supreme Court (for instance, new issues as a result of the passage of Measure 36). Under such a scenario, the case would be sent back to the trial court that made the original ruling in the case for development of those issues.

In this scenario, there would be no final legal clarity on any issues raised in the Li/Kennedy case until the case again reached the Oregon Supreme Court.

What it Would Mean:

While we would be disappointed in a ruling that would allow murky legal issues to persist for some time, this ruling would be significant in that the court would not have ruled against us on ANY of the merits of our case.

The experiences of the last year have made us more prepared than ever to successfully argue this case if we are required to do so again. We feel confident that, if not now, Oregon courts will eventually put an end to the exclusion of committed same-sex couples from the protections and responsibilities other Oregon couples count on.

If this litigation continues, it will allow us an ongoing opportunity to have a statewide conversation about how Oregon same-sex couples and their families are harmed by their exclusion from equal protections and responsibilities for their relationships.

In addition, this case will proceed along a path parallel to the legal challenge to Measure 36, filed in Marion County Court in January.

We won’t wait for the courts to decide this issue. We wouldn’t give up. Basic Rights Oregon has drafted a civil union bill that would extend every benefit, protection and responsibility afforded to opposite-sex couples in Oregon through marriage, which could be quickly introduced after the decision.

We will continue to call on the Oregon Legislature to act immediately to pass civil union legislation this session and work step by step for full equality in the end.

Remember:
The outcomes discussed above are by no means an exhaustive list of the range of possible decisions. It is possible that the court could reach a decision not discussed here or one that is more nuanced and complex than what we have described. No matter what the ruling, the decision will be handed down with little warning. Even Basic Rights Oregon, the ACLU, the plaintiff couples and attorneys in the case will get no more than 24 hours notice. We will make every attempt to let you know via our email update and our website when we know that a decision is imminent. On the day that the decision is released, your best source of up-to-date information will be the Basic Rights Oregon website. Check back often for news and updates.

Why We Need You in Order to Win in the Oregon Legislature

Thursday, March 24, 2005
At the beginning of the 2005 legislative session, we set out to pass The Oregon Basic Fairness Act (HB 2519) and enact Civil Unions. And our efforts have just begun.

Don't believe those who say it can't be done or those who say we have already failed. They're wrong and we want you to help us prove it.

We have our challenges ahead of us, but we also have opportunities. A number of avenues continue to exist for introducing civil union legislation this session. Lawmakers are allowed priority bills that can be introduced at any time in the session and we know that our allies in the legislature have made our goals thier priority.

We are everywhere we need to be to make change happen in the Oregon Legislature this year.

But we can not do it alone. The efforts of an organization are only effective when paired with the committment from each of us, as individuals, to act.

Have you written to your legislators?
Have you attended a town hall with your lawmakers?
Have you gone to Salem to meet with your representatives?

If not, do it now! Contact us--and we'll help make it happen! Better yet, also encourage others to get involved.

Each of us has friends, family members, coworkers and neighbors who care about these issues, but haven't yet turned thier values into action.

Email this link to those that you know. Ask them to lend their voice to our collective struggle. Ask them to join our email list and get involved.

Now is the time. The more voices lawmakers hear, the more difficult it becomes for them to ignore the call of conscience and do the right thing.

BRO's Upcoming Events

Saturday, March 19, 2005
LOBBY YOUR LEGISLATORS IN YOUR COMMUNITY 3/24

Date: Thursday, 3/24/2005
If you missed the Day of Action, don't miss your opportunity to lobby your legislators in YOUR community. In district town hall meetings will take place Thursday, March 24th in Cornelius.

LOBBY YOUR LEGISLATORS IN YOUR COMMMUNITY ON 3/23

Date: Wednesday, 3/23/2005
If you missed the Day of Action, don't miss your opportunity to lobby your legislators in YOUR community. In district town hall meetings will take place Wednesday, March 23rd in Woodburn.

Plan on attending? Contact Jessica at jessica@basicrights.org or 503-222-6151 so we know to count you in.

Dear BRO Supporters: A letter from Roey Thorpe

Thursday, March 17, 2005
Dear BRO Supporters,

I just got back from Washington, DC, on Wednesday afternoon, where I was attending a meeting at HRC headquarters. The purpose of the meeting was for state organizations that had been through anti-marriage amendment battles to share information with the many states that are expected to face such amendments in the next couple of years. I was there with Aisling Coghlan, the wonderful campaign manager of the No on 36 campaign, and we were talking with people from all over the country about our experiences.

While I was there, we got the news about the California court decision that declared it unconstitutional to deny same sex couples their right to marry. It was so exciting! I had dinner with Shannon Minter, the attorney who actually argued the California case, and got to share in his victory celebration. And the people from Equality California (the California equivalent of BRO) were also thrilled—it was a great party!

The moment was a bit poignant for me, because it just so happens that I was with these very same people several months ago when the California marriages were declared invalid by their Supreme Court. I remember so clearly their sadness and loss, and my feeling of helplessness at their despair. To see them celebrate, and to share their jubilation, was so rewarding and felt so right after having been with them when they were down.

On the long plane ride home, I was thinking about our own case, and wondering if we would be celebrating when we get our decision. We expect a decision in Li vs. Oregon any week now, and I started to worry about what the outcome might be. The ACLU did a fantastic job arguing this case, and there’s a possibility that we could win and that our marriages would be declared valid and the court would say that Oregon had to have civil unions from now on. That’s the best case scenario, and it would be a fantastic outcome, for sure.

But then I started to think about what it would be like if we don’t win this case, and how hard it would be to lose after losing so painfully in November. That could definitely happen, and if it does, we have got to stick together. We have got to remember that we are going to win some and lose some, and that this is a long journey that didn’t begin last year—it began decades ago when the first GLBT people dared to stand up for themselves, and the first allies dared to stand up with them. Our heroic county commissioners threw open a gate, and we stepped onto the road, and we did that together. We did it in the name of equality and justice, but above all we did it in the name of love.

A year ago, we did such a courageous thing, and doing it changed us. It raised our expectations of ourselves, our neighbors, and our state. We got a taste of equality, even though many of us feared it would be fleeting. No one can take that experience away from us, and even if this court decision does not go our way, we will never go back and we will never lower our expectations again. If we win in court, we will celebrate and we will be joyous and relieved and hopeful. But if we lose, we must be determined and strong and uncompromising, and we must remember that we are in this for the long haul.

I want to make sure we are ready for either outcome, and that even if we lose we don’t question our actions or ourselves. I am so proud of all of us, and so honored to have been a part of what was truly a life-changing experience a year ago. Whether we win or lose this particular court decision, in the long term, we ARE winning, and we WILL win equality. All of the momentum is in our direction, and the progress that has been made in Massachusetts and California, and maybe even Washington State and Connecticut this year are part of that. And we are part of it, too, an important part. We have to step back, and take the view that is both long and wide, and understand that we are part of a movement that is international and over 75 years old. Look how far we’ve come! Our predecessors wouldn’t believe we’re even discussing marriage equality in a serious way.

So let’s make sure we stick together. I’m hoping I’ll be seeing you all at a party and not at a vigil. But either way, we will have work to do the next day and the day after that, and I am proud and grateful to be doing it with all of you.

Warmly,
Roey

Tough times at HRC

Wednesday, March 16, 2005
With the fight for gay and lesbian equality at a crucial crossroads, The Advocate begins this ongoing series of articles focusing on our leading activist and service organizations, the work they do, and how they raise and spend money.

On an unseasonably warm night in February, some of the East Coast’s wealthiest gay men and lesbians gathered at the posh Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City. At $350 and up per plate, the dinner was a fund-raiser for the Human Rights Campaign; the program was to honor the drug company Pfizer and the New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Coalition and featured appearances by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Texas governor Ann Richards, and American Idol finalist Kimberley Locke. Susan Sarandon canceled at the last minute.

Amid the pomp, it was likely that the arriving HRC supporters failed to notice the 30 or so protesters whom eight policemen escorted away from the front of the Waldorf to a space across the street. One held a sign that summed up their argument: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING WITH ALL OF THAT MONEY?

Ordinarily it would be easy to dismiss such a ragtag group of protesters, especially since HRC has been attracting criticism since its founding almost 25 years ago. But in this case, the man holding the sign is veteran activist Larry Kramer, cofounder of both Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP and author of the just-published manifesto The Tragedy of Today’s Gays. “This day and age, what is there to celebrate?” Kramer said from behind his placard. “Everyone’s all dressed up and they’re going to go in and feel good about themselves. What is there to feel good about?”

In an e-mail he added, “I do not know what place [HRC] has in the community. I do not know what it does. I do not think it would make one bit of difference if they disappeared tomorrow.”

Kramer’s concerns are shared by many gays and lesbians who want HRC to better explain its day-to-day work. In the five months since one of the most disastrous elections for gay and lesbian rights, many gay activists are turning their anger away from powerful antigay forces and toward HRC, if for no other reason than that it is the country’s wealthiest gay rights group.

There is no uniformity of feeling about HRC, though there is no shortage of opinions either. State, local, and grassroots activists are split on the group’s effectiveness. While some express gratitude and offer praise for HRC’s support, others are questioning just how well the group is doing its job and voicing skepticism about its potential for producing legislative victories in 2005 with a White House and a Congress controlled by vocally antigay Republicans.

Several such activists declined to be quoted on the record, not wanting to incur HRC’s wrath. As this story went to press, in fact, one prominent state activist called The Advocate in a panic, having been telephoned by an HRC board member who didn’t want any negative comments in the press. Others were more public with their frustrations.

Alan Van Capelle, executive director of New York group Empire State Pride Agenda, says, “People want to know what the largest LGBT organization in the country has delivered for them.” Oklahoma activist Terry Gatewood accuses HRC of having been “AWOL” during his state’s marriage fight in 2004. “I understood they got spanked [in previous state ballot battles], and they were reassessing how much money they were going to put into these fights,” Gatewood says. “We just got the total runaround.”

"HRC has always had critics and probably always will, and we hope to address those criticisms in a direct, forthright manner,” says HRC spokesman David Smith, who was the group’s director of communications under former executive director Elizabeth Birch and has just returned to HRC after more than a year away from the organization. “HRC has broad appeal within our community and straight allies. That is evidenced by membership and strong support.”

Claiming 600,000 members, HRC remains the country’s most visible gay rights organization. Other activists and straight allies look to it to set the national agenda on the fight for gay equality and view its victories and its defeats as bellwethers for the gay and lesbian rights movement. Mainstream reporters use its resources in reference to all things gay. In 2004 alone, according to the group, HRC was quoted by the media more than 1,000 times. Its blue-and-yellow equal-sign logo has nearly overtaken the pink triangle as the de facto symbol of gay rights. The group’s outreach booths can be found at gay pride parades even in the smallest towns, and its online store sells everything from Calvin Klein T-shirts ($38) to dog dishes ($8.95) emblazoned with its logo.

With fund-raising projected at $30 million for 2005, HRC boasts 10 times the number of donors of each of the three next best-funded groups: the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and Lambda Legal. Only when the budgets of those three groups are combined can they come close to the financial fortitude of HRC, whose wealth is reflected by its sleek six-story headquarters near Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.

Yet for all its financial might, HRC has in recent months faced management shake-ups and image problems that have rattled the organization to its core. Immediately after the November election the group lost its president, Cheryl Jacques, a former Massachusetts state senator who held the job for less than a year. (A search is under way for a new executive director, but at press time no candidates had been named.) Both Jacques and HRC cited disagreements over management style, but the timing led many to speculate that the group was rethinking its strategy.

Such talk was bolstered in December when The New York Times reported that the group was considering supporting the privatization of Social Security, a wildly unpopular position among progressives. Today, HRC officials say it was a reporter’s error—a comment taken out of context—and firmly state that the organization is in no way in favor of President George W. Bush’s plan. But the perception was difficult to banish: A letter signed by 60 activist leaders strongly rejected “trading” gay rights for the inclusion of same-sex couples in a revamped Social Security, and radical queer groups are still sending out e-mails condemning HRC’s supposed support for privatizing Social Security.

“Did we hit a bump? Yes. But it was not a train wreck,” says Vic Basile, HRC’s first president and a current board member. “This is an organization that has thrived for 25 years, and it will continue to thrive.” Other HRC staffers dismiss criticism as jealousy from those who can’t re-create the elixir that makes the group a massive fund-raising success. HRC, they suggest, is being made the scapegoat for political setbacks for which no single entity is responsible. It’s a situation that seems to be snowballing nationwide, as activists in battleground states face new court cases, new ballot initiatives, and new legislation designed to institutionalize antigay discrimination.

HRC also takes the fall for the lack of concrete victories on the federal level. There is still no Employment Non-Discrimination Act, no hopeful news on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” no gay-inclusive hate-crimes law, no hope for tax laws that shelter same-sex domestic partners from paying income tax on health benefits.

But HRC contends that progress in D.C. comes one lawmaker at a time and may not make headlines. “When I started working at HRC, on November 14, 1994, just after the Republican Party took over control of [Congress], we had a small target list of Republicans and Democrats,” says Winnie Stachelberg, the group’s political director. “It was difficult to get meetings. There was a complete lack of understanding of issues that were facing the gay and lesbian communities.” With its seven full-time lobbyists, who logged approximately 400 Capitol Hill visits in 2004, HRC has doggedly worked to change the way Congress views gays and lesbians. “Now,” Stachelberg says, “we go to the Hill and there is much greater awareness of gay and lesbian issues and the concerns and challenges” facing gay people, and “there is more support on the Hill for our legislation than passage of bills would suggest.”

That progress has been predicated on supporting allies in both major parties—another strategy for which HRC has taken a lot of flak, particularly in its 1998 endorsement of conservative Republican U.S. senator Alfonse D’Amato of New York, who lost his reelection race to progressive, pro-gay Democrat Charles Schumer.

“We are always prepared to support members of Congress who are good on GLBT issues,” Stachelberg says. “We will always place some weight on whether a person is an incumbent. If we ask [a Republican] to vote a certain way and they do, you come back and support them again, even if that means they are challenged by a Democrat.”

George Bush’s second term promises to test the alliances HRC has formed on Capitol Hill, which is now populated by more vocally antigay Republican legislators than ever and a Democratic Party leery of pushing pro-gay legislation. In response, HRC’s congressional lobbying is downplaying marriage equality in favor of issues that may find support more easily among middle-of-the-road voters.

“It’s really important to keep pushing the envelope,” says Hilary Rosen, an interim codirector of HRC. “We are in the process right now of preparing with our congressional allies two packages. One is on law and families, [which addresses] family protection, Social Security survivor benefits, estate-tax equity, and other kinds of health care choices. [The other] is on workplace issues—things like ENDA and the taxability of health benefits and pension designations and those things that all Americans get because of being associated with their jobs.”

While Rosen acknowledges that in the current Congress these proposals are unlikely to pass, she argues, “You can always advance if you define advancement the right way. That’s why it’s so important to [emphasize] things like benefits in the workplace and nondiscrimination or pension portability in places like Georgia or Ohio. It’s that kind of incremental work that matters in people’s lives.”

Rosen also cites HRC’s launch of a religion project to jump-start a conversation on values without ceding faith to the religious right. “John D’Emilio, a gay historian, had this line I always subscribe to: We are about creeping and leaping. Only these days I think we are kind of doing both,” Rosen says. “Public opinion is still moving in our direction, it’s not moving backwards.”

HRC acknowledges that the most pressing battles for gay equality are happening in the states, not in Congress. In 2004 the group spent $1.7 million on statewide activism. But every time HRC gets involved in local politics, it must balance its offer of significant resources against the perception that it’s trying to preempt local leaders—or worse, funnel money back to its D.C. headquarters. In 2000, Lorri L. Jean, then the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, told the National Journal that HRC “continually organize[s] in ways that don’t promote coalition or collaboration.”

“In the past HRC has had really strained relationships with state organizations,” says Roey Thorpe, director of Basic Rights Oregon, which in November unsuccessfully fought a state constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage. “But in the past year I have seen an unprecedented level of collaboration.”

HRC, she says, “not only helped in fighting the ballot measure [in Oregon], they funded an effort to keep the measure off the ballot. I had a whole project set up to challenge the signature gatherers. In the past [HRC] had only given us a $5,000 equality grant. This time they donated $40,000 to help keep the measure off the ballot, in addition to more than $300,000 for the campaign against it.”

Sharon Semmens, board chair of Georgia Equality, which also battled an anti–gay marriage ballot measure in 2004 and lost, calls her experience with HRC “100% positive.” Semmens elaborates, “HRC’s role was very much in partnership with Georgia Equality.”

“Our intentions are good,” says HRC national field director Seth Kilbourn. “We want to be collaborative, we are not about taking credit; it’s about trying to get the work done. We don’t want directive capability, but we want the ability and infrastructure to be able to lobby effectively in Georgia or Washington. I hope that over time that sort of hard, bright line between state and national will begin to blur.”

The collaboration works both ways, he notes: “I need Equality Georgia, Massachusetts Equality, Equality California to help us with federal work, to make sure they have relationships with federal representatives. I need to be able to turn to them to find a gay couple to go talk to representative so-and-so about our issues. I also want to help them communicate their messages. It benefits both of us.”

Not all of HRC’s work is in battling antigay initiatives and federal lobbying. The group’s WorkNet project, which tracks companies with GLBT-friendly employment policies, has seen a steady increase in corporations’ voluntary participation since its launch in the late 1990s. Its FamilyNet project provides gay- and lesbian-led families a working primer for navigating legal waters regarding parenting, partnership benefits, estate planning, and other areas.

HRC also devotes considerable resources to providing the media with a gay and lesbian perspective on news developments, chiefly through educational ad campaigns and televised public service announcements. But at a time when visibility is no longer an end unto itself, activists are watching the organization that helped bring mainstream attention to GLBT lives.

“It’s not that visibility isn’t central or important,” says Suzanna Danuta Walters, the author of All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America. She warns against concluding “that cultural visibility is synonymous with profound cultural shifts.”

Craig Rimmerman, professor of political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, agrees. “I think in the short term, visibility is a form of success, but that can’t take the place of serious and important policy accomplishments that improve LGBT lives.”

Lorri L. Jean, now chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Center, says the Human Rights Campaign remains crucial to achieving those goals: “We need HRC. We need them to be at their best. We need them to be even better than they’ve been in the past.”

The Warshaw-Knox family of five

It's been more than a year since Steve Knox rushed to a Hilton hotel in downtown Portland, Ore., on an overcast day to marry Eric Warshaw, his boyfriend of 10 years.

Knox and Warshaw were the second same-sex couple to marry in Portland on March 3, 2004. That was the first day of a six-week period during which Multnomah County, which includes Portland, issued about 3,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Click here to view USA Today's Gallery of the family.

Opponents of same-sex marriage fought back after Multnomah's action. The Oregon Republican Party backed an amendment to the state constitution that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman only. In November, Oregon voters approved it by 57% to 43%. Supporters of gay marriage, however, have sued; they say the amendment violates the basic rights of gay citizens. The Oregon Supreme Court heard arguments in December; a decision is pending.

Meanwhile, a judge in San Francisco ruled Monday that California's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. Gay-marriage opponent Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel said he would appeal that ruling.

Oregon and 16 other states have defined marriage in their constitutions as between a man and a woman. Forty-two states have laws that prohibit same-sex marriage. (Fifteen states have both amendments and statutes.) Those laws and amendments show that the "people of America and Oregon do not want gay marriage," Tim Nashif of the Defense of Marriage Coalition told Newhouse News Service.

Warshaw says he and Knox will press ahead.

"When someone tries to take something away from you, it becomes that much more important," Warshaw says.

States have wrestled with the issue for more than a decade.

A decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in November 2003 opened a new chapter in the controversy when the court ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage violated the state constitution.

Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in May. Several other jurisdictions, including San Francisco and New Paltz, N.Y., also performed such marriages. Courts in California and New York later barred them.

Today, Knox and Warshaw are two of the plaintiffs urging the Oregon Supreme Court to uphold the validity of their marriage.

"The strongest reason that we did it was for our kids," Warshaw says. He and Knox have three adopted children.

"We're two hard-working doctors, involved in our kids' school, and the community," Knox says. "We hope this case will at least raise awareness and not make it (gay marriage) a knee-jerk reaction. At least, we'd like to make people wonder why they think it's wrong."

Both Knox and Warshaw say that little will change if the court rules against them. They say that to them, marriage solidifies something they already have. But for Knox, a ruling nullifying their marriage would still be an injustice.

"I would feel that the system failed me — a system I believe in and still hope exists," he says.

Cautious Optimism Locally Over California Gay Marriage Ruling

Tuesday, March 15, 2005
PORTLAND, OR - Gay rights activists around the country are hailing the decision released yesterday by a Superior Court judge in California. Richard Kramer ruled that a state law limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman is unconstitutional.

"Oregon Considered" host Allison Frost spoke yesterday with Rebekah Kassell with the group Basic Rights Oregon and asked whether Kassell's group is celebrating the decision.

To listen to the audio (mp3) please click here.

Same-Sex Marriage Victory in California!

Monday, March 14, 2005
A state Superior Court judge ruled today that a California law limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. In the opinion, Judge Kramer wrote, ''Same-sex marriage cannot be prohibited solely because California has always done so before.''

Today's ruling is similar to the one issued in Multnomah County trial court last year, prior to the passage of Measure 36. California law bans same-sex marriage, but it does not have a constitutional amendment specifically banning same-sex marriage like those passed in 13 states in November.

''This decision is part of a growing body of legal opinion throughout this country that confirms that the exclusion of same-sex couples from the fundamental right to marry violates every principle of fairness and equality this country and state hold dear,'' said Roey Thorpe, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon. ''Today's ruling is not just a victory for California, but for an entire nation moving forward on the path to full equality.''

This ruling is just the first step in the legal fight to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in California. The case, which was brought by the city of San Francisco and a dozen same-sex couples last March, will eventually be decided by the California Supreme Court.

READ THE CALIFORNIA COURT OPINION

Eugene to Hold Input Session on Gender Idntity Code Revisions

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Eugene Human Rights Commission invites community members to an information session regarding a proposal to add protections based on gender identity to the city's anti-discrimination code.

The session will be facilitated in the Council Chamber by Human Rights Commissioners and Gender Identity Work Group members and will include an overview of proposed code language, explanation of the public process for adopting code changes, a question and answer session and an opportunity for public input.

Gender Identity proposed code revisions are currently being considered by an ad hoc committee of the Eugene Human Rights Commission. The group will forward its recommendations to the Human Rights Commission, which will consider public input before forwarding its recommendations for the Eugene City Council.

Gender Identity is defined in the proposed code revisions as "a person's actual or perceived sex, including a person's identity appearance, expression or behavior, whether or not that identity, appearance, expression or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's sex at birth." The code revisions would provide protections based on gender identity in places of employment, housing, and public accommodation. Similar code language has already been adopted in Portland, Salem, Beaverton, Bend, Lake Oswego, and Multnomah and Benton Counties, as well as in more than 70 other cities, counties and states across the country.

Event Date: Monday, 3/14/2005
Event Time: 7:00 PM


FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Eugene Human Rights Program
777 Pearl Street, Room 105
Eugene, OR 97401
682-5177

THIS IS OUR OREGON TOO!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

This is a must read. Once again, Roey Thorpe of BRO delivers a riveting speech about where we are now, where we have been, and where we are going in the Oregon civil rights movement of our time. Speech took place at the March 3rd Day of Action in Salem.

One year ago today, we stood in the rain and we believed. We believed in each other. We believed in our state and our country. We had hope and we were fueled by the promise of our dreams.

Here we are one year later. We have been up. We have been down. We have won and we’ve lost. People might think that we are defeated, but we are not! We have never given up! We will never give up! We are not going away!

We’re here. We deserve to be here. We’re here today to say this is our Oregon too. We are here for ourselves, for our children and our grandchildren because we dare to dream of a state where love trumps fear, where honesty never bows under the weight of secrets, where silence borne of shame has no place.

We dream of an Oregon—OUR Oregon—where people do not leave the places they grew up and the families they love because they are unable to live a lie. Our Oregon is an Oregon where young people never question whether life is worth living, where faith comforts but does not condemn, where the gifts that each of us has to offer can be used and appreciated, where difference is honored instead of reviled.

Prejudice has no place in this Oregon—in OUR Oregon. Bigotry and judgment are no where to be found. Families are not torn apart, employees feel fully confident in their value, people live in their neighborhoods and communities and are never afraid to leave their homes or be seen with the person they love.

In OUR Oregon, civil rights are for all of us and don’t depend on your zip code. In our Oregon, fairness and equality shine even when the sun does not.

We are here today. We are parents, neighbors, teachers, grandparents, clergy, students and taxpayers and we are voters. We are here to say that this is our Oregon too!

You know, the modern gift for a first anniversary is a clock and that is especially appropriate today because our time has come.

This is our moment in time and we are not going away. We have waited long enough for the simple equality and fairness that our state should offer every Oregonian and we ask every person in our state who shares our vision of fairness, of equality, of unity and above all our vision of love, to stand with us, demand that the Oregon Basic Fairness Act (pdf) be passed and that civil unions become the law—demand justice and equality for all!

$25 Million Lawsuit against right wing group using a gay Portland couples wedding photo

Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Rick Raymen and Steve Hansen were tired of seeing their wedding photo used in an anti-gay political attack ad. The couple from Portland, Ore., said they didn't give permission to the creator of the ad to use their image, and their request to stop using it has been ignored, so on Wednesday they filed a $25 million lawsuit in federal court.

The suit targets USA Next and its political consulting firm for allegedly stealing the photo from the Web site of the Portland Herald newspaper.

"Our privacy and personal integrity were violated when our wedding photo was stolen and used to portray us as treasonous, unpatriotic and a threat to American troops," Rick Raymen said in a press release. "We have been harassed and humiliated by this hateful ad campaign and by the bigotry and anger it has generated against us nationwide."

USA Next is an offshoot group of the United Seniors Association, which is led by former television personality Art Linkletter. USA Next has endorsed President Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. The attack ad featuring Raymen and Hansen is aimed at a rival senior advocacy group, the American Association for Retired People (AARP), which opposes the privatization plan.

The ad places the photo of Raymen and Hansen alongside a photo of a soldier and the caption, "The REAL AARP Agenda." USA Next claims AARP is anti-military and favors gay marriage. AARP, in fact, has not taken a stance on military issues or gay rights.

Christopher Wolf, an attorney representing Raymen and Hansen, wrote a letter to USA Next chairman and CEO Charles Jarvis on Feb. 28, demanding an immediate stop to use of the photo and a public apology.

USA Next refused to apologize or to even respond to the letter, according to a spokesman for the couple. So on Wednesday Wolf filed a four-part lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C. The suit alleges the use of the photo without the couple's permission amounts to an invasion of privacy, libel, violation of the couple's right of publicity and an intentional infliction of emotional distress.

According to the Associated Press, Jarvis said Wednesday that he believed the rights to the photograph had been obtained properly when he put up the ad.

Rebekah Kassell, spokeswoman for the gay rights group Basic Rights Oregon, called it "despicable" and "un-American" to use an innocent gay couple in a smear campaign. She told the PlanetOut Network this incident is indicative of a growing, disturbing trend to use LGBT people as "political pawns."

"For God's sake this is a wedding photo, taken on what was probably one of the best days of this couple's life together," she said. "It was used in such an insidious way. And I think it happens very often that photos taken in moments of pride and celebration are distorted and misused and sensationalized in a way that takes any sort of meaning out of it and creates a negative image."

Simultaneously with the filing of the complaint, Wolf filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against USA Next and its ad agency to get them to stop using the photo.

Gay bashing wins at Dorchester

Homosexuals are Kevin Mannix. Meal Ticket for 2006?

Lyndon Johnson was a student of Southern politics and also its ultimate practitioner. Johnson once gave a discourse on how Southern politicians used race as a diversion. LBJ said that whenever a Southern senator or congressman was in trouble, he would cry Nigrah, nigrah, nigrah.

For Republicans, homosexuals now serve that purpose.

Oregon Republicans meeting at last weekend's Dorchester conference stepped up to the plate by voting 188-89 against the concept of civil unions.

Nary a word about rising tuition that is pricing college out of the hands of many Oregon students and not a peep about deteriorating highway infrastructure. But the Dorchester participants stood solidly against giving committed gay relationships legal protection and opportunity.

Would the GOP have done that to interracial couples? No. Would they have taken civil rights away from women? Not on your life. But gays are an easy target, so the Dorchester gang went right for it.

This discussion didn't just come up. It was the tactic of GOP party Chairman Kevin Mannix, in his perpetual quest for statewide office. And why not? The gambit has worked well for President George W. Bush.

Mannix has never run for office on the merits. When he challenged Attorney General Hardy Myers in 2000, he used the big smear. The moderate Ron Saxton was a serious challenger for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2002, so Mannix misrepresented Saxton in order to defeat him.

Now it's clear that Mannix sees gay bashing as his meal ticket for a return match with Gov. Ted Kulongoski in 2006.

Meanwhile, the substantive question about civil unions comes down to a matter of basic human decency. The Oregonian last week pictured two women who had been partners for 45 years. Their partnership is not a threat to anyone's marriage. If anything, its longevity should be an inspiration. But under the law, these women don't have the right of survivorship. If one of them is in the hospital, the other will be treated officially as a stranger.

The Dorchester Conference used to be about leadership. Staking a claim on gay bashing is not leadership; it is preaching to the lowest common denominator.

WA Supreme Court hears gay marriage case today

Tuesday, March 08, 2005
OLYMPIA, Wash. - The gay marriage issue goes before the Washington Supreme Court today in Olympia.

The court will hear arguments on whether Washington's Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional.

The court is hearing appeals from King and Thurston counties involving 19 couples who want their gay relationships recognized as marriages. Two judges found that denying marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples violates the state constitution's requirement of equal treatment for all citizens.

The lawsuits contend that the law denies homosexuals access to family courts, community property laws, parental rights and the ability to make health care decisions for each other.

Lawyers for the state argue that same-sex unions are not a fundamental right. They say the state recognizes marriage as a means for procreation and extends privileges to married couples to help create a stable environment for children.

The Legislature passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1998 to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.

Oregon Considered.

Monday, March 07, 2005
Examined: the uncertain state of same-sex marriage and civil unions in Oregon, and talk to people on both sides of this contentious issue.

Host: Allison Frost, host of Oregon Considered

Guests: Mike White, executive director of Defense of Marriage Coalition; Roey Thorpe, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon.

To listen to the discussion with Roey Thorpe of BRO and Mike White from the "Defense of Marriage Coalition" please click here or you can use the links below:

Audio 1
Audio 2

Or simply visit http://www.opb.org/programs/oregonterritory/

Audio and Content: Copyright 2005, OPB

A Year of Gay Marriage Confusion

While the issue of gay marriage and civil unions is still alive and kicking in the Oregon Supreme Court and the the state legislature, the furor over the actions of Multnomah County commissioners has largely died out.

Perhaps the best indication of that is the effort the county has recently launched.

It's soliciting photos and written memories of the event from the general public for an archive at the Oregon Historical Society.

Kristian Foden-Vencil offers this retrospective.
_______________

March 3rd, 2004 was a cold and rainy day. But the scene outside the Multnomah County building in Southeast Portland was anything but grey.

As protesters marched up and down, preaching on the evils of Sodom and Gomorrah, hundreds of couples, in everything from sweats to tuxedos, waited anxiously in line.

They clutched bunches of roses or carnations, hastily bought from the local grocery store, and talked of the excitement of getting hitched and getting the day off from work.

Christopher and Jeff Baum, were up at three in the morning to get a good spot in line.

Christopher Baum: "You know I was in the kitchen and it came on the news last night and we just decided it was worthwhile coming down."

Kristian: You're going to get married presumably?

Christopher Baum: "Yes."

Kristian: "Have you thought about doing it before?"

Christopher Baum: "We actually had a wedding ceremony a year and a half ago, we had a big wedding, but we didn't have anything legally protecting us. So we have a mortgage, we have kids, so if something happened to one of us, how would the other take care of it without a legal right in which to do so?"

Protestor: "You're vile, you're vile in God's eyes. You're vile and you're wicked."

And what did the affianced make of the supposed eternal damnation of their souls?

Christopher Baum: "I really believe everyone has a right to their opinion, they have their rights to their opinion, just like we do. I'm sorry that theirs comes across so hateful."

After the initial rush of marriages -- many conducted right there on the sidewalk -- the carnival atmosphere faded. But by April 20th, when the State Supreme Court eventually issued an injunction against the county, 3022 gay and lesbian couples had walked the proverbial aisle.
_______________

Sound of creaky door and dog

Kristian: "Hi,"

"Hi, how you doing?"
"Get back doggy."

A year later, Joan Logan and Maureen Audell live with their dog Zoe in a restored old Portland home in the Sellwood neighborhood.

They got married during those first frantic days. In their late 60's and early 70's, the two grey-hair ladies laugh at their status as social trailblazers. And they say the significance of their actions was the farthest thing from their minds.

Joan Logan: "But after we did it. We realized that we had dome something historic. We got to be a part of something important. Yeah. It was great. We're one of the Oregon 3000 couples and that's a very fun thing."

They also take a philosophical view of any court case or measure that could potentially annul their marriage.

Maureen Audell: "It will be legal in our minds, for us. And that's what means something. Whatever they do now, they really can't take that away."

Joan Logan: "Well it's just like a heterosexual couple, that's been in a relationship for years. If some political thing happened in the country and somebody said to them, oh by the way, you're no longer married. They'd say, what do you mean? You're crazy. And that's what we would say, although we will fight for this to be legalized permanently. So that it's not that it doesn't matter, it's just that it won't change our relationship."

Logan and Audell were one of many couples married by Portland's First Unitarian Church associate minister, Tom Disrud.

Now, sitting in his small Portland office, Disrud says the weddings gave him a heady feeling, which climaxed during a church service -- the Sunday afterwards.

Tom Disrud: "When they read off all the names of the couples, the congregation stood and cheered and this has been a wonderful time of inspiration and energy in the congregation. People have been very pleased that we've taken a public stand. We've had a banner on the side of our church for a year that we support civil rights, civil marriage is a civil right. So that's been very important for us."

Disrud says the first few weeks were ugly too. The hate mail that sticks in his mind explained that: "All gays should be killed," and it was addressed and signed by a neighbor. But Disrud predicts, Oregonians will look back in 40 years and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Tom Disrud: "I look back to the time 25 years ago when I was in high school. And if you would have told me that in 2004 that I would be officiating at marriages for same sex couples. I think it would have been equally likely that I would be living on the moon. And so things change."

Across town in the Multnomah County building, commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey sits in her corner office and answers a question she's been asked before: With all the criticism that no public input was gathered before commissioners decided to issue the marriage licenses, does she wish they'd done things differently?

Maria Rojo de Steffey: "I truly believed then and believe now that it is a constitutional right of these folks to be married. So I feel strongly that I did the right thing. And people say oh, you should have processed it more. Well we might have processed it more, but I still believe I would have made the same decision."

Lonnie Roberts, the lone Multnomah County commissioner cut out of discussion over issuing same-sex marriage licenses, is simply pleased that the issue was eventually put to a vote of the people.

He says the passage of Measure 36 last November means Oregonians want marriage to be only between one man and one woman.

While the measure is now tied up in a legal battle, regardless of the outcome, work on the archive will continue.

Maria De Steffey has written a few paragraphs and collected a few pictures, which she plans to add to the gay-marriage collection being archived by the county.

Once they've been displayed in the lobby, everything will be handed over to the Oregon Historical Society.

Museum spokesman, Ken Dubois, says it'll be added to a collection they have called the 'Gay and Lesbian Archive of the Pacific Northwest.'

Ken Dubois: "Naturally we're glad to accept the material. It's historical. It's interesting now, and it'll be much more interesting 20 or 30 or 50 years from now."

The archive will be filed along with the society's 1914 Meier and Frank Delivery Truck, its first edition Corps of Discovery volume, and its collection of 1960 patio furniture.

By Kristian Foden-Vencil, OPB

Civil Unions Issue Lingers In Legislative Limbo

SALEM, OR: One year after Multnomah County began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, gay rights advocates spent the day at Oregon's capitol lobbying for civil unions and a ban on discrimination.

(Oregon Considered) - Several hundred activists organized by the group Basic Rights Oregon rallied on the steps of the capitol, to the heckles of a handful of anti-gay rights activists.

Nat sound: "You're on your way to hell!" "Hey, hey, ho, ho, discrimination has got to go..."

A bill to give gay couples all the legal and financial benefits of marriage, but without the label of marriage, remains in legislative limbo.

Lawmakers are waiting to see what the Oregon Supreme Court decides to do with the 3000 marriage licenses given to same sex couples in Multnomah County last March.

The documents could be invalidated by a constitutional amendment approved in November defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Rally organizer Roey Thorpe told the crowd the last year has not ended the debate over gay rights.

Roey Thorpe: "We have been up. We have been down. We've won and we've lost. And people might think we're defeated. But we are not! We have never given up. We are not going away. We will never give up!"

Earlier in the day, gay rights activists heard from Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski who is supporting a bill to ban workplace and housing discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Ted Kulongoski: "It is unfair for us as the state to ask you for your taxes, your work effort, your contributions, but not to treat you fairly. And we're going to change that."

Critics of the discrimination bill and the civil unions proposal argued that both are unnecessary.

By Colin Fogarty, OPB

What's happening with gay marriage nationally

Saturday, March 05, 2005
On Tuesday, the Washington State Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case challenging the state's ban on gay marriage. Laws on gay marriage vary from state to state:

-Massacusetts is the only state where gay marriage is legal. The state's Supreme Judicial Court legalized it in 2003; the court will hear arguments this year on a challenge to a 1913 state law that bars out-of-state gay couples from getting married there.

-In addition to Washington state, legal challenges by same-sex couples seeking the right to marry are pending in California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Oregon.

-Voters in thirteen states passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage last year: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah.

-Four states already had gay marriage bans in their constitutions: Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska and Nevada.

-The following states have laws on the books (but not in their constitutions) prohibiting gay marriage: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

-Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Maryland, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Wyoming have no laws explicitly banning gay marriage.

-Vermont bans gay marriage but legalized same-sex civil unions in 2001.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Conservative Group Admits Stealing Oregon Gay Couple's Picture

Friday, March 04, 2005
A conservative group admitted late Friday that it illegally used a wedding photograph of a Portland, Oregon gay couple in an ad attacking the American Association for Retired People.

On Tuesday 365Gay.com reported that M. Raymen and Steven P. Hansen were threatening to sue over the use of the picture.

The ad, by USA Next, is attacking the AARP for opposing the Bush administration's proposed changes to Social Security and attempts to "discredit" the organization by suggesting it supports gay marriage and opposes the war in Iraq.

The AARP has come under fire from conservatives for opposing President Bush's call for Social Security reform.

The ad features two photos, one of a soldier and one with a picture of two men in tuxedos kissing. The picture of the solider has an X over it. The one of Raymen and Hansen has a checkmark. The ad has the caption "The real AARP agenda."

The ad was produced for USA Next by Mark Montini International, Montini is a GOP strategist and chief executive officer of CampaignSecrets.com.

In addition, ABC news has linked some of the members of USA Next to the same people behind the controversial Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads that challenged the war record of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry. And, there have been unverified suggestions that Montini has links to Talon News the now defunct conservative online publication that employed J.D. Guckert the man who posed as a White House reporter while working as a male prostitute

Both USA Next and Montini initially said that they had bought the rights to the photo of Raymen and Hansen from the Portland Tribune. A Tribune photographer had shot the picture during Portland's brief attempt to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples last year.

Today, the Tribune issued a statement that it had not sold rights to the photo.

"The paper did not give, sell or contribute its use in any way, and no request for its use was received before the photo appeared in the ad," said Tim Jewett, Portland Tribune photo director.

Such a request, if submitted, would have been rejected anyway, Jewett said, because the paper won’t sell photos for commercial use without the permission of people shown in the photo.

The Tribune also says that when it informed Montini of his illegal use of the photo he clandestinely attempted to buy a similar photo of the couple that appears in the Tribune's online library.

"Montini tested the newspaper’s photo-sales policies and submitted an Internet request and payment to buy a similar but not identical photo for private use," the paper said. "Virginia Meyers, the Tribune photo assistant who monitors photo Web sales, called him to ask for what purpose he was using the photo. At that point, he said he was only checking to see how the paper’s policy worked, and Meyers refunded his money .

"... after Montini had been told by Meyers by phone and via e-mail that the paper would not sell him the photo for use in an ad, he tried another tack. He sent $600 — the typical fee for such commercial use of a photo— through PayPal, the electronic money transfer system, in payment for using the photo. The money was quickly refunded in full via PayPal because the newspaper would not grant permission for an ad agency to use a photo in this way."

Montini and USA Next could be looking at huge payout for illegally using the picture. They would have to settle with both the paper and with Raymen and Hansen.

Gay marriage: one year later

Oregon's debate over gay marriage has thrust same-sex families into the spotlight

It is a typical Tuesday night for Stephen Knox and Eric Warshaw, just days before they and hundreds of other Multnomah same-sex couples celebrate what could be their first and last wedding anniversaries. At their home in the affluent Forest Heights area of the western Portland suburbs, the couple of 11 years sits around a kitchen table strewn with construction paper, glue and multi-colored glitter, helping their three adopted children with art projects.

"You can use the grown-up scissors when we're using the grown-up scissors," Knox, 44, tells four-year-old Isaac. Meanwhile, Adam, six, complains that his four-year-old sister Tillie scribbled on his homework. A Spongebob Squarepants video game plays on television nearby. Alex, the family dog, lounges by their feet.

A year after Multnomah County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the issue of gay marriage in Oregon-and for that matter, the rest of the nation-is far from being resolved. However, the debate has dramatically increased the public profile of same-sex couples with children, such as Knox and Warshaw.

In many ways, Knox and Warshaw are the poster couple for gay marriage in Oregon. And it is not just because they were officially the first gay male couple to be legally married in the state one year ago.

Knox, and Warshaw, both 41, celebrate their first wedding anniversary today along with hundreds of other gays and lesbians who married March 3, 2004, just hours after Multnomah County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The county issued over 3,000 licenses before a Circuit Court judge halted their issuance April 20.

Knox and Warshaw, both medical doctors, say that like most parents most of their time revolves around their children. When the couple is not working, they are probably busy driving their three young children to gymnastics or swimming lessons in their minivan.

This typical suburban Portland lifestyle was a big reason that Basic Rights Oregon, the state's most prominent gay rights group, asked Knox and Warshaw if they were interested in turning their wedding into a media event last March, according to Basic Rights Oregon spokeswoman Rebekah Kassell.

Still, when the couple arrived at the downtown Hilton hotel for their marriage ceremony on the morning of March 3, 2004, they had no idea that they would be stepping into one of the biggest media events of the year.

"We knew there would be some [reporters], but we had no idea it would be that many," Knox said. "We thought it would be this sort of secret thing. Then all of the sudden, it was like, wow, a lot of people know about this."

Dozens of reporters and photographers packed into the penthouse suite to witness Knox and Warshaw's wedding. They shared their ceremony with Mary Li and Rebecca Kennedy, the first lesbian couple to be wed. Li and Kennedy also have a daughter, Ava, who was nine months old at the time of their wedding.

The video of Knox and Warshaw slipping their wedding rings onto each other's fingers, with all three children in tow, along with a similar one of Li and Kennedy, would soon become the standard teaser clips for television news stories on same-sex marriage, aired hundreds of times over the following months.

Though same-sex couples with children have been around for years (more than half of same-sex couples in Oregon are raising children, according to Kassell) the issue of marriage has drawn them into the spotlight for the first time.

Many proponents of same-sex marriage say they hope exposure to gay and lesbian couples with children will help opponents better relate to same-sex couples' desire to marry.

"We want Oregonians to understand that these families are not much different from their own," Kassell said. "There are many people out there who don't think of gay families as families."

Many opponents of same-sex marriage, including the Defense of Marriage Coalition have argued that families headed by same-sex couple are not truly families at all, insisting children require parents of the opposite sex for a healthy upbringing.

The Defense of Marriage Coalition, often used the argument in support of Measure 36, the ballot measure the coalition created that constitutionally bans same-sex marriage in Oregon, approved by voters in the Nov. 2, 2004, election.

In the next few weeks, the Oregon Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether the Multnomah County marriages are still legal as a result of the measure's passage.

Oregon has always been volatile territory when it comes to the battle over gay rights. Between 1988 and 2000, the Oregon Citizen's Alliance, led by Lon Mabon, put four measures targeting homosexuality on the ballot. Three dealt with preventing the state from providing civil rights protections to gays and lesbians. One of them, Measure 9 in 2000, dealt with teaching about homosexuality in public schools. However, only Measure 8 passed in 1988, but it was later overturned by the Oregon Court of Appeals.

On campaigns for ballot measures prior to Measure 36, proponents of the measures, including Mabon, usually focused their arguments on moral or religious objections to homosexuality in general.

Opponents of those measures focused on discrimination against individuals and denial of civil liberties.

While similar arguments certainly are not uncommon in the debate over same-sex marriage, the issue has highlighted doubts about same-sex families more than ever before.

Many supporters of Measure 36 claimed growing up in a same-sex-parented family is bad for children, Some touted psychological studies often produced by religiously affiliated institutions that indicated children fare better with parents of the opposite sex than with same-sex parents.

For many same-sex couples with children, the decision to get married was aimed directly at countering the idea that they are not a family. Some hoped marriage would help reinforce the sense of family for their own children.

Knox and Warshaw's children were a major factor in the couple's decision to get married, Warshaw said. Though their children are probably too young to understand the complexities of marriage now Warshaw and Knox wanted to instill in them the belief that it is OK to marry whomever one wants.

"It's more for the future," Warshaw said. "To know that you didn't just stand on the sidelines, that you actually tried to make things better."

Sellwood residents Kelly Burke, 35, a stay-at-home mom, and Delores Doyle, 39, an electrician, who also married last March, share a similar perspective to that of Knox and Warshaw. The couple has a three-year-old son, Avery.

When Burke and Doyle met while attending Lewis and Clark College 16 years ago, she had no idea that she would end up where she is now.

"When I met Delores 16 years ago, if you told me that at 35 I would be a married, stay-at-home mom, I would be laughing," Burke said.

After dating for 10 years, Burke and Doyle held a commitment ceremony in Portland, attended by over a hundred friends and family members. For years, that seemed like enough, but the couple started thinking about legal marriage after Avery was born in 2001.

Avery is Burke's biological son, but because they were not married, Doyle had to formally adopt Avery to ensure that she would be recognized as the boy's legal guardian as well as Burke.

In addition, because Burke is not employed, the couple relies on Doyle's employee health insurance. At first, Burke was denied coverage under Doyle's plan because the employer does not extend health benefits to domestic partners. After their marriage, the company agreed to provide Burke with coverage "unless the courts rule otherwise."

"I sleep better at night knowing that if anything happened to us our family would be better protected," Burke said.

Burke says that she also enjoys the symbolic family reinforcement that marriage provides for Avery.

"It's especially powerful for my son," Burke said, "at three years old, for him to know that legally we're a family."

Portland landed on the same-sex marriage map when four of the five Multnomah County Commissioners announced March 2, 2004, that the county would begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples the next day.

Well before dawn on March 3, gay and lesbian couples were already lining up at the county headquarters their first chance at a legal marriage.

By the time the headquarters opened in the morning, hundreds of couples had joined the line, which extended around the block.

Oregon was thrust overnight into the center of a national debate on same-sex marriage, as Portland joined San Francisco and New Paltz, N.Y., as one of the first cities in the country to allow gays and lesbians to marry.

When Circuit Court Judge Frank Bearden ordered the county to cease issuing licenses April 20, 2004, more than 3,000 couples had already been married.

Then the legal challenges, on both sides of the issue, began piling up.

Two lawsuits aimed at legalizing same-sex unions are still awaiting decisions by the Oregon Supreme Court. Basic Rights Oregon also filed a legal challenge to Measure 36 Jan. 31, arguing that the measure violates a state law barring ballot measures from making more than one change to the Oregon Constitution at a time.

Also, court may soon rule on whether same-sex couples are constitutionally entitled to civil unions, in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Basic Rights Oregon last March. Knox, Warshaw, Burke and Doyle are all plaintiffs in the case.

Story by Matt Petrie

Couples celebrate 'a magic time'

This being their first wedding anniversary, Joanne Fletcher and Linda Leanne plan to head to Portland for a nice dinner, a possible visit to the zoo, maybe even a nostalgic visit to the Multnomah County government office where they said their sidewalk "I do's."

But first they'll stop in Salem for a rally in front of the state Capitol. It was a year ago today that Leanne and Fletcher joined more than 400 other couples who lined up for marriage certificates being issued for the first time to same-sex couples. Like the majority of others who received licenses that day, they were married on the spot by a minister they'd never met before.

The elation they say they felt that day has since been tempered, especially after Oregon voters in November approved Ballot Measure 36, which amends the state constitution by restricting marriage to one man and one woman.

But for now at least, the Eugene couple remain legally married and so intend to celebrate - beginning with the political rally in Salem.

"We're hoping to bump into some of the people we stood in line with for four hours a year ago," said Fletcher, a Lane County foster care coordinator. "If more people meet us, they'll realize we're just regular people."

Political support is sought
At today's "marriage equality" campaign, gay rights advocates from across the state - including a contingent leaving from Eugene's Alton Baker Park early this morning - will gather to shout slogans, attend workshops and pigeonhole legislators.

Supporters plan to push a bill that would expand Oregon's anti-discrimination law to protect citizens discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

They also will lobby for legislation that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, giving them the same legal rights and privileges that heterosexual couples enjoy via marriage.

Even though voters approved Ballot Measure 36 by 57 percent, most Oregonians support the concept of civil unions and the idea that gays and lesbians should be protected from discrimination, said Rebekah Kassell, communications director for Basic Rights Oregon.

"This is the greatest level of visibility, both in the Legislature and around the kitchen table of average Oregonians, that we've ever had," she said. "Civil unions were considered a pretty radical idea a year ago, and now it's a moderate fall-back position."

But two significant forces - organized political opposition and pending judicial rulings - still stand in the way of Kassell's group's goals.

The Oregon Supreme Court has yet to rule on a claim that a ban on gay marriages violates a constitutional clause granting the same "privileges and benefits" to all citizens. A lawsuit challenging Ballot Measure 36's constitutionality, meanwhile, is still pending in Marion County Circuit Court.

Some don't see a problem
The Defense of Marriage Coalition, meanwhile, is opposed to expanding the state's anti-discrimination law to include sexual orientation and to the idea of civil unions that benefit only same-sex couples, said Tim Nashif, the coalition's political director.

There is little evidence to suggest Oregonians are discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation, Nashif said.

"There might be some isolated cases, but nowhere near the level to be deemed a problem" requiring legislative protection, he said.

Rather than civil unions, Nashif said the coalition is advancing a "reciprocal benefits" bill that would extend medical, inheritance and other certain rights to a range of people - two siblings or two widowers or a grandchild and grandparent, for example, but not solely to same-sex couples.

"We don't believe Oregonians, when they passed Ballot Measure 36, intended to give every single benefit of marriage" to same-sex couples via civil unions, Nashif said. "It would basically gut marriage."

Paula Franklin, a nurse from Harrisburg, said she and her partner, licensed tax consultant Nancy Corr, had already been together 25 years before becoming legally married a year ago today. "I don't know how to describe it, but there really is a different feeling to being married," Franklin said Wednesday.

Nonetheless, she said she thinks there's "a 50-50 chance" her marriage will eventually be declared null and void.

"Even if the courts rule it's legal, the opinions of so many people are still so negative," she said, adding that she could be satisfied with the idea of a legal civil union, "if that's the best we can do."

But Leanne and Fletcher say they cringe at that idea.

"The problem with incremental steps is, it's a pacifier," said Leanne, a voice coach. "I don't want people to be pacified. If there's prejudice against one minority, there's prejudice against all, whether people acknowledge it or not."

Leanne, 51, said she's navigated a tough year - her ex-husband died of lung cancer in February, her mother died in October and she underwent major surgery in December - and that the knowledge she was legally married helped her get through it all.

"Having been married before, I knew there was that cultural thing: You hang in there," she said. "It was really clear to me that if not for the longevity of our relationship, all this stuff could have broke us up."

Fletcher, 44, said she tries not to think about her marriage being ruled invalid one day. "It would be infuriating, but not devastating, because honestly, it's what I would expect," she said.

Solidarity amid celebration
In all, Multnomah County issued 3,022 marriage licenses to same-sex couples before being ordered by a judge to stop. Fletcher and Leanne said the Ballot Measure 36 campaign took a personal toll and stole some of the luster of being a part of that group.

But today, they said, is not the day to dwell on such things. Instead, they will enjoy each other's company and reminisce about their wedding day on the streets of Portland.

"I'll never forget the solidarity and the celebration and the honoring of that day," said Leanne. "When we came out of that building with our license, we could have gone straight to our car. But we went all the way around the building instead, to cheers and hugs and flowers. It was a magic time."

Out, but NOT down.

Showing their support included Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams and Sens. Kate Brown, D-Portland, and Ben Westlund, R-Bend whom all made incredible speeches to the energized crowd.

At the rally, Adams said he was "proud to be Portland's first openly gay city commissioner." As he spoke, a heckler, holding a sign that said "God Deplores Your Vile Affection," shouted, "Go back to the closet."

"Honey, it ain't big enough for me any more," Adams replied. The crowd roared with laughter.

SALEM - Three months after Oregon voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, gay-rights supporters descended on the Capitol Thursday to demand that the Legislature outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and legally recognize civil unions between same-sex couples.

At a noon rally on the Capitol steps, gay-rights leaders vowed not to be deterred by the passage in November of Measure 36, the same-sex marriage ban that was approved by almost 60 percent of voters.

"People might think we're defeated, but we are not," Roey Thorpe, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon, the largest gay and lesbian rights group in the state, told the cheering crowd. "We are not going away. This is our Oregon, this is our state."

Throughout the rally, a handful of hecklers shouted at the speakers, who included Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams and Sens. Kate Brown, D-Portland, and Ben Westlund, R-Bend. Before the rally, people on both sides of the emotionally charged debate engaged in a running shouting match, hurling insults and commentaries on religion and lifestyles at one another.

About 600 people, fewer than the 1,000 that organizers had predicted, attended the rally, which Thorpe said would kick off "the largest lobbying effort ever" in Oregon by gay-rights advocates. After the rally, participants marched into the Capitol to meet with lawmakers.

Thorpe said Basic Rights Oregon has three main objectives during the 2005 legislative session:

Passage of House Bill 2519, which would outlaw discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, public services and education on the basis of sexual orientation. The bill also would amend the state's hate-crime laws to cover sexual orientation.

Enactment of a civil-unions law that would give same-sex couples the same rights and protections as married couples.

Defeat of House Bill 2401, sponsored by Rep. John Lim, R-Gresham, which would grant an official "preference" in adoption of children to married couples over same-sex partners. Thorpe called the bill "a very insidious and terrible bill."

Brown and Westlund are drafting civil-unions legislation. But Thorpe said sanctioning of same-sex marriage remains the goal of Oregon gay-rights advocates.

"Right now, the political reality is lobbying for marriage only is not the most pragmatic choice," she told supporters before the rally. "We believe we can use civil unions to keep on course toward marriage."

Rally participants, who came from all over the state, gathered first at Willamette University across the street from the Capitol, where Gov. Ted Kulongoski greeted them. "You are an integral part of our future," he told the crowd.

In an interview, Kulongoski said he strongly supported anti-discrimination legislation but expressed skepticism about the prospects for passing a civil-unions bill, calling it "very tough."

EDWARD WALSH - THE OREGONIAN

PlanetOut: Year later, Oregonians lobby for equality

Thursday, March 03, 2005
"Equal rights under attack. What do we do? Stand up, fight back!" chanted some of the participants in a pro-gay rights march in Salem, Ore., on Thursday afternoon. The event marked one year since same-sex couples began marrying in Portland.

Some of the nearly 1,000 marchers, like Linda Leanne and her partner of 15 years, Joanne Fletcher, were couples who celebrated the anniversary by getting involved in the political fight to protect their marriages.

"I participated because I believe it's important that the citizenry of Oregon see the numbers of people that they are discriminating against," Leanne told the PlanetOut Network.

Inspired last year by actions in San Francisco and New Paltz, N.Y., officials in Multnomah County -- home to the city of Portland -- started granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples on March 3, 2004. Before the wedding parade was halted on April 21 by a judge, 2,968 couples had received licenses.

The marriages have been legally recorded, but a court challenge is pending to determine the legality of those marriages.

Thursday's march, part of a daylong lobbing event at the state capitol, was organized by Basic Rights Oregon, the state's leading LGBT rights group.

Rebekah Kassell, communications director for the group, said the all-day lobbying event aimed to advance three legislative priorities: a statewide nondiscrimination bill, the addition of gender identity to the state's hate crimes law and a civil union bill for same-sex couples.

The courts are also weighing legal recognition for same-sex couples. A lawsuit challenging the state's marriage laws as discriminatory was filed last year, before Oregonians voted in November to amend the state Constitution to forbid same-sex couples from marrying. The ban, however, was challenged in court by marriage equality supporters last month.

"It could take years," Kassell said, before the state's court system finalizes a legal status for same-sex couples.

After Thursday's lobbying event, Leanne and Fletcher said they were tired and mainly interested in finding a good place to have dinner. Though the two women received their marriage license on March 3, they consider the date of their commitment ceremony 10 years ago as the moment they were married.

Unlike some couples, the two women view March 3 primarily as a significant civil transaction. "It's like celebrating my will," Leanne said, "or the buying of an insurance policy."

Tom Musbach, PlanetOut Network

KATU Video Coverage of Today's Rally.

A great watch for those of you who missed it - very balanced coverage.
Click Here to view video.

A letter from Roey Thorpe

Dear Friends of BRO,

Now, a year later, we all agree that March 3, 2004 changed our lives. It's hard to imagine that anything else we experience in our future work could ever have as huge an impact on us personally. I remember standing in the room as Mary Li and Becky Kennedy exchanged their vows, and all of a sudden I started to cry and realized that I couldn't stop. The emotion was overwhelming. Mary and Becky are a beautiful couple, with an adorable baby, and of course their wedding was touching. But what I was feeling was only partly about that. It was about something that I was to witness over and over, that day, the next, and the next, and it caught me completely off guard. I was watching people be transformed before my eyes, by taking their rightful place as equal citizens of our state, and I was equally changed. I spoke with hundreds of people, married couples and their friends and family, who were as overwhelmed as I was by their own joy and their pride and their gratitude to those four brave commissioners. In those first few days, the bar of our expectations and our sense of what we deserved was raised, and rightfully so.

It's hard to believe that it's been a whole year since the day that Multnomah County started issuing marriage licenses. As I write this it is March 2, the day before the licenses started being issued, and I remember what it was like to be in the BRO office on that day. At the time, we were a staff of 5, and we were madly preparing to help what we knew would be hundreds of couples get their licenses and get married the following day. Melissa was figuring out traffic patterns and recruiting volunteers for the Keller Auditorium, Jessica was making fact sheets and packing supplies for the lines outside the county office building, Dan was talking with couples who were planning to marry, Cathy was helping answer the phone and I was talking to the press and trying not to panic. All of us had our heads down, frantically getting the logistical questions answered, and none of us had any idea what the next day would mean for us personally.

For most married couples, the words "I Do" are the most memorable of their ceremony. But we had been saying "I Do" for years. The couples I witnessed grinned and cried and cheered at the words "By the power vested in me by Multnomah County," because those words were both new and decades overdue. Over and over people told me that they never thought they'd live to see that day. Others spoke of their grief over partners who had passed away before their dream could be reality. Through it all, what united us was love, joy, and the power of equality.

Eight months later, almost to the day, Measure 36 passed, by a margin that felt impossibly cruel. When BRO toured the state in December, we heard from people who felt that Measure 36 was a referendum on them as people, and who felt vulnerable and disenfranchised in their own communities. We heard outrage and pain and disbelief from people all across the state. Our office was deluged with calls from people who wanted us to help them understand how this could have happened, and others who wanted to express their sorrow. Others told us how much they wanted to get involved more than ever or for the first time.

The one thing we haven't heard much of is regret. Although the national press tried briefly to blame John Kerry's loss on GLBT people, and the Right continues to claim that we've learned our lesson and are retreating, that's just ridiculous. The bottom line is that even though we lost the ballot measure, and even though it hurt a lot! Most people I talk with believe that we are ahead of where we were a year ago. I agree. Think about it: same-sex couples have been getting married in Massachusetts for months, the California legislature passed a statewide domestic partner bill and is considering a marriage equality bill, and same-sex marriage has been spreading all across our nearest neighbor, Canada, and across many other countries in the world. Here in Oregon, legislators are discussing civil union legislation and Governor Kulongoski has made a nondiscrimination bill one of his top priorities this session. Our state has changed and our issues are now the mainstream, when at one time they were the fringe.

And even if all of that weren't true, the truth is that once you've changed the way so many of us did last March, there's no going back. There's no lowering our expectations, there's no settling for second class status. In the last legislative session, many of us, including me, would have been very satisfied with civil unions. Now, civil unions are simply one step in the right, and inevitable, direction. This is how it should be, because in order to change others, we ourselves must first be changed.

As we gather on the steps of the Capitol on March 3, we are celebrating our anniversaries in a very appropriate way. The modern first anniversary gift is a clock, which symbolizes the time that a couple will spend together. For us, it also symbolizes a movement whose time has come, and people who are unwilling to wait any longer for the rights they deserve. And it symbolizes this very special time, a momentous year in this civil rights movement of ours, and the courage and vision of all of those who took part in this historic moment. It is an honor to share this anniversary with all of you, in the spirit of love, justice, and equality.

-Roey Thorpe, Executive Director, Basic Rights Oregon