BREAKING: 9th Circuit dismisses right-wing challenge to Oregon gay-rights laws

By Marshall Collins of Springfield, Oregon. Marshall describes himself as "a progressive dude loving life in Springfield with my partner and our house bunny."

Today, an opinion was issued [pdf] by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Lemons v. Bradbury.

Lemons is the lawsuit filed by right-wing nuts with the help of a well funded out of state legal group.

Here is my layman's timeline on the suit. For a more detailed look you can go to the Basic Rights Oregon website.

During the 2007 session the legislature passed the Oregon Family Fairness Act creating Domestic Partnerships for same-sex couples and the Oregon Equality Act adding sexual orientation to the list groups in which it is illegal to discriminate against.

A group of pissed off fundamentalists tried to gather signatures to create a referendum on these laws for the November 2008 Elections.

After a poorly organized and underfunded signature gathering drive barely enough raw signatures were turned in.

Using the same process for counting signatures that everyone else gets, both measures failed to make the ballot. By the SOS count, they were over 1000 short for the Oregon Equality Act and only 100 short for the Family Fairness Act.

So, the pissed-off fundamentalists - with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund - file suit challenging the counting process.

In February 2008, the lawsuit is dismissed by a conservative, Bush-appointed judge. The fundamentalists and their friends appeal to the 9th Circuit.

And now we are here today, and don't ya know the 9th Circuit has seen through the spin and deceit of the ADF and affirmed the decision of the circuit court. WIth the election only a couple months away this makes an appeal to the Supreme Court very unlikely as there just isn't enough time. That being said this will make it only the 2nd presidential election since 1984 that an anti-gay measure won't be on the ballot. I don't know about you but I could use a rest and I am sure BRO would love to be able to spend this election cycle paying forward all of the help they have received from candidates, officials and other non-profits and causes that have helped them over the years.

I turned 25 this year and grew up during the many fights for LGBT equality in this state. The wins, the losses, and the near misses were part of what made me who I am. The feelings of hope leading up to every election or floor vote. The feelings of joy when we won, the sadness when we lost. And I think sometimes most importantly learning to deal with and put to use the confusion and anger that I had for the people who wanted to deny me the rights that everyone else has.

I can't say that I wish it wasn't as hard as it was. It has shaped and molded me into a pretty neat guy and as as a person who is concerned with multiple issues facing us as humans it has changed my thinking to know that anything is possible with a hard work and persistance.

This week, as I am celebrating the gains our community has made in the last year and the decision handed down today I will be sending my best wishes to all of the candidates and issues that I believe in. Your time will come. Just remember to savor the journey no matter how long it may be and celebrate the success no matter how long it takes to receive it.

  • (Show?)

    I am glad that this will not be on the ballot. However, the underlying issue in the suit was whether valid Oregon electors, whose names were wrongly thrown out during the signature verification process are entitled to a remedy.

    In this particular case, four valid electors whose names were thrown out came forward and attested that they are who they said they were when they signed.

    The court ruled that because the state warrants no guarantee that your signature will be accurately verified, these voters have no remedy. Their names were stricken, and because of the sampling model that was used, these measures did not make the ballot.

    To their credit, the SOS responded to this by implementing a second level of review in 2008 that largely responds to these concerns.

  • (Show?)

    This is great news, indeed. Many of the people pushing this referendum were the same people who claimed a few years ago that they only objected to gay "marriage" and that they had no problem with domestic partnerships -- an attempt to soften their rhetoric during the Measure 36 campaign.

  • LiberalIncarnate (unverified)

    While I am grateful for this ruling, this is far from the end. What we are dealing with here are mentally ill fanatics that need to be seriously medicated.

    They'll be back. They live for this sort of thing. Without someone to hate, they have nothing to live for.

  • Marshall Collins (unverified)

    I totally agree with you LI. This is not yet over. That being said it is still a victory and it will be more than nice to not see anything anti-gay on the ballot this year. I for one will celebrate with a pomegranate martini or 2.

  • Rhode Island Yankee (unverified)

    Great news, but I fear that since the 9th Circuit has a supposed liberal bias (according to right-wing nuts) the Supreme Bush Court may allow a fast-track appeal in a special summer session. Remember who appointed the Thief to his position. ACTIVIST JUDGES indeed.

  • Laura Calvo (unverified)

    It is a great day! Equality for all Americans and their families is another step closer.

    Marshall, as well as of us in Oregon, can take the day to celebrate.

    But tomorrow we have to take this forward to the rest of the nation and here at home. We need to resolve even more seriously to taking back our country from those who wish to continue to deny all Americans equal rights.

    McCain would deny adoption of abandoned and in many cases children with special needs by LGBT people. McCain would deny our courageous and patriotic service in the military.

    That's why we must elect Barack Obama as the next President of the United States.

    Smith pretends to be our friend while he voted to support a constitutional amendment forever banning full marriage equality for LGBT Americans. Smith has yet to publicly condemn the initiative effort to repeal the Oregon Equality Act and the Oregon Family Fairness Act. While Smith votes with George Bush 90% of the time, a President who adamantly threatened to veto the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and has been the darling of the religious right, we sit in the wake of the ongoing oppression of our rights as citizens.

    That's why we need to elect Jeff Merkley to the US Senate.

    While we still have Oregon Legislators more than willing to publicly tell LGBT Oregonians to shut up while they openly gather signatures to repeal simple human rights afforded by the Oregon Equality Act and the Oregon Family Fairness Act in office, we have work to do.

    That's why we need to elect pro-equality Oregon Legislative candidates, like Nick Kahl, Lynn Howe, and all our democrats from around the state of Oregon.

  • Relieved (unverified)

    Any danger they'll ask the 9th Circuit for an expedited en banc hearing?

  • (Show?)

    This was a slam dunk and always was--the issue the anti-gay nuts are clinging to is just preposterous. To rule in their favor the courts would have to throw out the right of states to use sampling in any verification techniques. Which has no scientific basis, no logical basis and no Constitutional basis (ie, states get to decide the manner of deciding elections).

    Glad they made the right decision; never really feared they would do otherwise.

  • Matt (unverified)

    Mr. Collins,

    I'm a conservative home owner and I'm sorry for asking a personal question but I have to ask.

    Is the house bunny potty trained?

  • Marshall Collins (unverified)
    <h2>LOL. Yes Matt, the house bunny is very much potty trained and it was actually quite easy to do s. We got her at about 9 weeks old and she was at about 80% within a couple of weeks and fully trained within about 6 weeks. It was really quite easy.</h2>
guest column

connect with blueoregon