LGBT Rights

The ACLU has worked for equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people for over 75 years. We fight discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The struggle of LGBT people for full equality is one of this generation’s most important and galvanizing civil rights movements. Despite the many advances that have been made, LGBT people continue to face discrimination in many areas of life. No federal law prevents a person from being fired or refused a job on the basis of sexual orientation. Mothers and fathers still lose child custody simply ecause they are gay or lesbian. Here in Oregon, we have faced more anti-gay ballot measures than any other state – and we fought against every single one of them. When we couldn’t defeat them at the ballot box, we brought legal challenges in court. And, while here in Oregon the state ban on marriage for same-sex couples was struck down, couples in many other states still are denied the freedom to marry.

We fought to ensure the equal protection provision of the Oregon Constitution, Article I, section 20, protected all Oregonians - including LGBT people. We continue to work to provide protection for family relationships, including fighting for the freedom to marry in Oregon; to advocate for LGBT youth and youth groups to organize and speak out; to oppose laws that criminalize sexual intimacy; to support laws that prohibit discrimination; and to preserve the right to free expression and association for LGBT people.

Litigation

ACLU Sues Oregon Department of Corrections Over Denial of Medical Care to Transgender Prisoner

Lawsuit highlights relentless suffering of transgender prisoner and demands medically-necessary care for all transgender prisoners

 October 17, 2016 - The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon (ACLU of Oregon) filed a lawsuit today in federal court against the officials at the Oregon Department of Corrections on behalf of a transgender prisoner who is being denied essential medical care. The suit, on behalf of Michelle Wright, a transgender woman who is currently housed at Two Rivers Correctional Facility, argues that it is cruel and unusual to deny medically-necessary care to prisoners. Michelle Wright in prison

“The Oregon Department of Corrections is denying our client lifesaving care,” said Mat dos Santos, legal director at the ACLU of Oregon. 

Wright, age 25, felt a deep disconnect between the gender she was assigned at birth and her female gender since childhood. Although she identified as transgender, she was unable to begin hormone therapy prior to her incarceration. According to the complaint, Wright has been denied medical care despite submitting nearly 100 requests. Facing repeated denials of care, she has attempted suicide multiple times and, on three occasions, attempted to castrate herself. 

“At this point, I’m afraid I will lose her forever,” said an emotional Victoria Wright, mother of the plaintiff. “She should be held accountable for her mistakes, but I’m worried she is being damaged in prison in a way that might not be fixable.”

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Oregon Schools Must Protect Transgender Students

UPDATE: January 20, 2015 - We sent a letter outlining the rights of transgender students to the Dallas School Board ahead of a special meeting held last night. The letter read, in part:

"The refusal to allow transgender students to use the same facilities used by other students in accordance with their gender identity violates Title IX and impairs students’ ability to learn, grow, and thrive in the school environment. Research shows that denying transgender people access to facilities that correspond to the gender they live every day holds serious consequences for them, negatively impacting their education, employment, health, and participation in public life. Conversely, full acceptance of a student’s gender identity—including allowing them access to gender-appropriate facilities —goes a long way toward providing a welcoming environment and a positive educational experience. Moreover, disclosure of a student’s gender identity, without their permission, is against the law and can have serious, long-term negative repercussions. It is critical for schools to respect the privacy of transgender students, even if the school is operating with no ill intent."

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Legislation

Discrimination Has No Place in Oregon

May 9, 2014 - The ACLU of Oregon is elated the Oregon Family Council has decided not to go forward with its plans to put a discrimination measure on the ballot in November. There is no place for discrimination in Oregon.

Yesterday, the Oregon Supreme Court released the ballot title for Initiative Petition 52 saying it would not order any changes be made to the ballot title certified by the Attorney General. We had urged the Court to improve on part of the ballot title but overall we were pleased that the certified ballot title made the harmful effects of the proposal clear to voters.

The initiative was designed to allow individuals and businesses to use their religion to discriminate against same-sex couples in a wide array of services related to celebrating or recognizing a gay or lesbian couple's marriage or relationship. It is wrong to treat people differently because of who they are and who they love.

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EQUAL PROTECTION: Repeal Surgery Requirement for Gender Change on Birth Certificate (HB 2093) (2013)

After the passage of HB 2093 and taking effect January 1, 2014, 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.

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Other

Stop the cruel and unusual punishment of transgender prisoners in Oregon

Michelle Wright from Two Rivers Correctional Facility

Transgender prisoners in Oregon are being denied life-saving medical care.

   sign our petition button

We recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of Michelle Wright, a transgender prisoner whose requests for care have repeatedly been denied by prison officials. Despite being diagnosed with gender dysphoria by prison medical staff, which causes severe anxiety, depression, and suicidality, Michelle’s pleas for humane treatment have been ignored.

Michelle isn’t alone in her struggle. We have heard from over a dozen other transgender prisoners who are facing similar treatment.

Please join us in calling on the Oregon Department of Corrections to end their cruel policies and practices that deny life-saving care to transgender prisoners by signing our petition. To deny essential medical care is considered cruel and unusual punishment and is prohibited under the Eight Amendment of the Constitution.

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Attorney General Rosenblum: Do Not Waive Catholic Hospitals' Merger Review

Catholic Ethical & Religious Directives Restrict Reproductive, End-of-Life Care

January 14, 2016 - The ACLU of Oregon and 12 other public interest organizations sent Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum a letter urging her to reject a request for a waiver from the standard process for reviewing merger transactions by the nation’s 6th largest nonprofit hospital system, Providence Health & Services, and St. Joseph Health.

“This proposed transaction involves eight hospitals across Oregon, and a total of almost 50 hospitals across six states [Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon, Texas, Washington],” the groups said in the letter sent to AG’s office on Jan. 8. “Even absent the transfer of assets, significant changes in health care delivery are likely to occur…it behooves the Attorney General to undertake the full review process to ensure that this transaction preserves existing health care services and benefits the public interest.”

St. Joseph and Providence are both Catholic health systems. Catholic hospitals must typically follow the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) promulgated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The ERDs many forbid reproductive health services, including all birth control methods, sterilization, miscarriage management, abortion, the least invasive treatments for ectopic pregnancies, and some infertility treatments. The ERDs provide no exceptions for risks to a patient’s health or even life.

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