Federal judge lifts stay on Oregon domestic partnerships

[JURIST] The US District Court for the District of Oregon [official website] ruled Friday that Oregon's domestic partnership law [HB 2007 text] should be allowed to take effect, saying that opponents of the law failed to gather the necessary signatures to place the law on the ballot for public referendum next November. Judge Michael Mosman suspended the law [JURIST report] in December pending Friday's hearing to determine whether county clerks inappropriately rejected signatures. In lieu of a written opinion, Mosmon issued a transcript [PDF text] of his closing remarks, saying that the "most troubling" argument in the case was its analogy to Bush v. Gore, and:

that if the actual setup for counting votes, and perhaps by extension for counting signatures, is so without standards that people who vote or sign a petition in one county are far more likely to qualify than people in another county because the evaluators, the people working for the state don't have any standard by which to make their judgments, that can violate the equal protection clause.
Mosman rejected the claim that any rights were violated in the counting of the signatures and found there to be no equal protection problem. The Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) [advocacy website], which filed the suit on behalf of the law's opponents, said it will consider filing an appeal. AP has more.

ADF brought the lawsuit [complaint, PDF; ADF fact sheet, PDF] in December, alleging that the Oregon Secretary of State and several county clerks "invalidated" the citizens' petition signatures. In October, opponents failed to have the issue put to popular vote [JURIST report] after falling short by 116 signatures [Oregonian report, PDF], which would have allowed the law to take effect on January 1 had there been no lawsuit. The measure was passed by the Oregon House in April and the Oregon Senate [JURIST reports] in May. Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed [JURIST report] the bill into law last May.


 

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