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In the Courts

Marriage Equality
The Oregon Supreme Court heard arguments on December 15, 2004 in ACLU‚s lawsuit challenging the denial of the rights of marriage to same-sex couples in Oregon, Li and Kennedy v. State of Oregon. After passage of Measure 36 in the November election, ACLU lawyers have argued that Measure 36 should have no effect on the fundamental constitutional principle of whether the state can continue to discriminate against same-sex couples and their families by denying them the many important legal protections that are afforded to opposite-sex couples through marriage.

Prior to the passage of Measure 36, the ACLU urged the court to remedy that discrimination by extending the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples. However, in light of the measure‚s passage, we now argue in this particular case that the state must at least provide the benefits and protections of marriage, through civil unions in order to remedy the continuing constitutional violation.

In January 2005, Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) filed a legal challenge to Measure 36 in Marion County Circuit Court. The lawsuit, on behalf of several same-sex couples and individuals, challenges whether Measure 36 met the constitutional requirements all initiatives must meet to be placed on the ballot.

Read more on Frequently Asked Questions About the Affect of Measure 36, Li and Kennedy and Marriage Equality, lawsuit.

Due Process
On February 10, 2005, the Oregon Supreme Court, at the urging of the ACLU of Oregon, overturned a decision by the Oregon Court of Appeals in V.L.Y. v. Board of Parole. The principle at stake is that whenever an individual faces a potential loss of liberty that individual must be „accorded the basics of due process.š

The ACLU represented V.L.Y. in the case before the Supreme Court. V.L.Y. is a follow up to Noble v. Board of Parole, 327 Or 485, 964 P2d 990 (1998), in which the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that due process required the Board to provide an evidentiary hearing to a registered sex offender before it could label that person a "predatory sex offender" (and notify the community of that label). [The ACLU filed an amicus brief in Noble.] In response to Noble, the Board developed new rules under which a person could be labeled a predator based entirely on his or her past record. The person could provide a written challenge to the Board‚s interpretation of his or her record, but no evidence (written or otherwise) on whether he or she was actually a predatory sex offender. V.L.Y., who was labeled a predator despite three qualified experts assessment that he was not one, challenged the process on several constitutional grounds.

Justice Michael Gillette, writing for the unanimous court, opined: „Under the present statutory formulation of the predatory sexual offender designation, any party facing such a designation, whatever the reasons for that designation, must be accorded the basics of due process. Those basics, at a minimum, include notice and the opportunity to be heard as to all factual questions at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.š

Copyright October, 2005 , ACLU of Oregon
Last updated October 19, 2005