Oregon State Bar Sponsors Class on Marriage Equality

LakeandBethBy George T. Nicola, Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN), Special to PQ Monthly

The Oregon State Bar (OSB) Diversity Section presented a September 25 Continuing Legal Education (CLE) class entitled “Marriage Equality: Looking Back, Looking Forward” in downtown Portland.

Mariann Hyland, the Director of OSB’s Diversity & Inclusion Department, started the session with a description of the content and the introduction of the two speakers, both of whom are openly LGBT. The Honorable Beth Allen, a Multnomah Circuit Court Judge, began with a history of efforts to bring same-gender marriage to Oregon and to other states. Prior to taking the bench, Judge Allen was in private practice that included work for Basic Rights Oregon (BRO). She had also served on the Board of Portland’s Q Center.

Judge Allen was followed by Lake James Perriguey, the attorney who initiated Geiger v. Kitzhaber. Geiger v. Kitzhaber was the lead federal case (consolidated with trailing case Rummell v. Kitzhaber) that overturned Oregon’s ban on same-gender marriage. Mr. Perriguey discussed in detail his filing of the Geiger law suit and his strategies that brought a successful conclusion.

Judge Allen then discussed some practical current issues still facing Oregon same-gender couples today.

Both Judge Allen and Mr. Perriguey were past beneficiaries of the Bill & Ann Shepherd Legal Scholarship Fund of Equity Foundation. The scholarships are awarded to a select group of third and fourth year law students dedicated to donating their legal expertise to fighting bigotry and discrimination, particularly in the area of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Marriage Equality class had excellent attendance. It was particular significant because it was initiated and sponsored by the Oregon State Bar, rather than by an advocacy group that is LGBT identified.