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Circuit Court's ruling allows Oregon domestic partnerships to rest easy for now

Karynn Fish [spokesperson, Basic Rights Oregon]: "Oregon's domestic partnership law [PDF] has been in effect since February 1, when a district court judge lifted a temporary restraining order that had delayed its implementation. JURIST isn't clear on this point.

Last week's ruling by the 9th Circuit means that there will be no referendum on the law (a remedy sought by the plaintiffs), and the 2,200+ committed couples who have registered domestic partnerships with the State of Oregon since February no longer have to worry that the legal status of their relationships might be annulled overnight.

Basic Rights Oregon attorney Margaret Olney notes that "The Ninth Circuit found that the state's process had a 'minimal' burden on plaintiffs' rights." Additionally, Olney finds that the Court, while not directly discussing the issue, "rejects plaintiffs' fundamental premise — that they have a constitutionally protected right to have a genuine signature count. The state's rules barring extrinsic evidence are entirely permissible; any other rule would impose a severe burden on the state."

The harm that would come to these committed couples should the law be suspended or overturned was Basic Rights Oregon's greatest concern, and the reason that we intervened in the case."

Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.

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