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Washington Court Upholds Discrimination. A Statement from Basic Rights Oregon

Basic Rights Oregon, the state's largest and most influential gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization, denounced a Washington State Supreme Court decision today on same-sex marriage that upheld discrimination against same-sex couples and their families in the state of Washington. In a splintered 5-4 decision, Washington's highest court held that the state constitution does not require extending the freedom to marry to gay and lesbian couples.

Justice Barbara Madsen wrote that the state's marriage law was enacted to ''promote procreation and to encourage stable families.''

She continued, ''The legislature was entitled to believe that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers the State's legitimate interests in procreation and the well-being of children.''

Same-sex couples, the opinion said, failed to prove that they had a fundamental right to marry, or that the state's 1998 ''Defense of Marriage Act'' was unconstitutional.

Statement from Frank Dixon, Basic Rights Oregon Interim Executive Director:

''Today's decision from the Washington Supreme Court is disappointing, not just for our neighbors to the north, but for all Americans who care about fundamental fairness and equality under the law.

In refusing to recognize that the constitution is a guarantee of equality for all -- even when it is unpopular -- the Court turned its back on this promise. What's worse is that, like the recent New York Court of Appeals decision, the majority opinion in this case did not rely on the law, but on personal ideology and tired myths about GLBT people and same-sex parenting. The reliance on these myths is even more upsetting considering that every reliable medical and social science authority on the welfare of children and families has shown them to be untrue.

This decision is yet another reminder that same-sex couples and their families in Oregon and across the country continue to experience discrimination that affects medical decision-making, end-of-life issues, parenting and more. Here in Oregon we continue to call on Oregon Courts and the Oregon Legislature to consider this issue carefully and stand on the side of justice and fairness under the law for all of our citizens.

While we are saddened today by the Washington decision, we also know that this set-back is but one marker in a long struggle for equality. Just as in Washington and across the country, Basic Rights Oregon will continue to fight on every front until the full equality we seek is achieved.''

Background: Today's ruling was the result of an appeal -- supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, Northwest Women's Law Center and Lambda Legal -- from two lawsuits, one in King County and one in Thurston County, filed by 19 same-sex couples who sued for the right to wed.

Superior Court judges in King and Thurston counties struck down the law banning same-sex marriage as unconstitutional in 2004.

The opinion decides the fate of the state's 1998 statutory ''Defense of Marriage Act'', which banned same-sex marriage. Washington does not have a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

To read the court's opinion in the case, click here

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