LGBT Rights

The Constitution Doesn't Allow Businesses to Discriminate

by Mat dos Santos, Legal Director

August 29, 2016 - No one should be turned away from a business just because of who they are. When Sweet Cakes co-owner Aaron Klein refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, he broke Oregon anti-discrimination laws. Discrimination is degrading, and harms not only the individual or targeted group, but society as a whole. Our state has a long-standing tradition of protecting people from businesses that discriminate because Oregonians value fairness and equality.

sign that reads open for business open for all;

And let’s be real, selling a wedding cake doesn’t mean a business owner is endorsing a marriage, or agreeing with everything the customer believes. It simply means they are providing services to the public, and that their business is open to everyone on the same terms. For many of us, this is just the Golden Rule — treating others as we would like to be treated — but, it is also required by law in Oregon and elsewhere.

The Kleins have argued that they should be able to discriminate against same-sex couples and, presumably, anyone else their personal religion disfavors. They say that some of our most fundamental freedoms, the freedoms of speech and religion, give them a license to discriminate.

Freedom of religion and freedom of speech are fundamental rights protected by the Oregon and federal constitutions. But those freedoms don’t allow any of us to harm others.

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ACLU Continues to Seek Clarity on Walgreens-Providence Collaboration

By Leah Rutman, ACLU-WA Policy Counsel

There continues to be a lack of clarity as to whether the health clinics to be opened in Washington and Oregon through a collaboration of Walgreens and Providence Health & Services will be bound by religious doctrine. The ACLU is pleased to have received assurances from Walgreens that its pharmacies will continue to provide services free of religious restrictions. But we are disappointed that we have not received similar assurances regarding the soon-to-open clinics.

On December 14, the ACLU of Washington, the ACLU of Oregon and 17 other public interest organizations that advocate for patients’ rights and comprehensive health care access sent a letter to Walgreens requesting information about its strategic collaboration for the opening of up to 25 clinics in Washington and Oregon with Providence Health & Services, a Catholic health care provider. Walgreens is the nation’s largest drug store chain.

The organizations sought to learn whether religious doctrine will limit access to important medical services, information, and referrals at the clinics, and will limit Walgreens pharmacies’ ability to fill prescriptions.

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The Enduring Legacy of the 1969 Stonewall Riots

By Stuart Kaplan, Board Member

The LGBT community has made tremendous strides toward greater societal inclusion and equality in the last dozen or so years. Most recently, the freedom to marry has spread in the states with almost dizzying speed as state constitutional bans against marriage equality get struck down in the courts. Against this backdrop of significant progress it is helpful to remind ourselves of historical events that now stand out as key milestones. One of those seminal events is the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City.

The site of the riots was the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, which was a popular gathering place for sexual minorities. Even though Greenwich Village was considered to be an area that was especially tolerant and open to sexual minorities, New York City police often raided bars that were thought to be friendly to a gay clientele. Police raids were a frequent occurrence at the Stonewall Inn causing the patrons to become increasingly frustrated and angry about their treatment. The raid on June 28, 1969 was seen as the last straw and it touched off numerous spontaneous and sometimes violent demonstrations on the street outside the bar against repressive police tactics. With the 45th anniversary of Stonewall occurring this June what is notable about its place in the history of the LGBT rights movement?

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Marriage Matters to Us

By Chris Tanner, Plaintiff

Ten years ago in March, Lisa and I were first in line when Multnomah County issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples. We married immediately in our church, with our ministers, blessed with the presence of friends.

Ten years ago in November, voters approved Measure 36, an amendment to our state constitution denying the freedom to marry to Oregon's same-sex couples. Shortly thereafter, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled our marriage invalid.

Lisa and I took down the framed marriage license from our wall. 

Much has changed over the last decade. A majority of Americans now support the freedom to marry, including 55% of Oregon voters. In 17 states and D.C., all loving couples can marry and Oregon now recognizes those out of state marriages. But, I still cannot legally marry Lisa in the state we call home.

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Because of You, History Is in the Making

David Fidanque - US Supreme Court

By David Fidanque, Executive Director

Today I am at the U.S. Supreme Court to watch our volunteer attorney, Steven Wilker of the Tonkon Torp firm, argue against the federal government’s position that Secret Service agents cannot be sued for intentionally violating the First Amendment rights of protesters.

The Moss case started almost ten years ago after police were directed to move only those protesting the policies of the Bush administration but not the people who showed up to support the President. Do you know your rights to protest?

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Top 8 Civil Liberties Victories of 2013 in Oregon

By Sarah Armstrong, Outreach Coordinator

It has been quite a year on the civil liberties front lines in Oregon. We picked our top eight civil liberties victories of 2013. Not surprisingly, intersections of privacy and technology make the most appearances on our list, but we also had wins for the rights of transgender people, immigrant rights, free speech, due process, and racial justice.

We love Oregon and are working hard to ensure it remains a place that honors freedom and values the rights of all people. Join us! Support civil liberties in Oregon.

#8 - You can’t be required to “friend” your boss.

It’s hard to believe, but some employers require that folks hand over their social media passwords, allow them to “shoulder surf” their online accounts, or mandate that they “friend” them on sites like Facebook. We helped pass a law in Oregon that prohibits employers (and public colleges) from that type of snooping.

Private activities that would never be intruded upon offline should not receive less privacy protection simply because they take place online. An employer would never be allowed to read an applicant’s diary or postal mail, listen in at private gatherings with friends, or look at that person’s private videos and photo albums. They should not expect the right to do the electronic equivalent.

#7 – No, you may not radio track Oregon students! (Well, at least not without telling us first.)

In November 2012, a Texas student was kicked out of school for failure to wear a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag that was distributed for tracking attendance. RFID tags are tiny computer chips that are more commonly used to track everything from cattle to commercial products moving through warehouses. Oregon legislators took notice and went to work on a new law to prevent this from happening here.

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Bring the Freedom to Marry to Oregon

By David Fidanque, Executive Director

Last month, ACLU client Edie Windsor made history when the Supreme Court struck down the core of the Defense of Marriage Act. It was a momentous day for Edie and for couples across the country. 

Now, it’s our turn to make history – by becoming the first state in the nation to write the freedom to marry into our constitution. The ACLU of Oregon is a key partner in this freedom to marry campaign and we are fighting to ensure that all loving and committed couples in Oregon can marry. Most importantly, we are counting on YOU to join us in the fight!

Tomorrow, Oregon United for Marriage is launching the campaign to collect 116,284 valid signatures from Oregonian voters (like you!) to put the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection Initiative on the ballot in November 2014.

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Oregon Legislature Repeals Surgery Requirement for Gender Change on Birth Certificate

By Becky Straus, Legislative Director, ACLU of Oregon
Kevin Díaz, Legal Director, ACLU of Oregon
Amanda Goad, LGBT Project

With Gov. Kitzhaber's approval of HB 2093 yesterday, transgender people in Oregon will no longer have to show proof of surgery in order to change their birth certificates to accurately reflect their gender. Previously, Oregon law required surgery in order to update a birth certificate gender marker, even for those transgender people who did not need or want it, or were unable to access surgery for financial, medical, or other reasons. The ACLU supported the great work of agency and advocate partners to reach this victory. We are glad to see Oregon's legislature and governor sign off on this important change and advance the rights of transgender Oregonians.

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