Pre-Suit, Behind the Scenes "Deal" Between the ACLU and the Oregon Attorney General Fast Tracks Same-Sex Marriage Case and Freezes Out Legislators

Mar 29, 2004

PORTLAND, OR - Last Friday, March 26, 2004, Portland Judge Frank Bearden denied fifteen members of the Oregon Legislature the right to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU against the state of Oregon less than two days prior to the intervention hearing. The reason was because the legislators refused to sign on to a fast track "deal" between the ACLU and the Attorney General. The Legislators are represented by Liberty Counsel and the AFA Center for Law and Policy.

In one of the most incredible examples of government collusion over same-sex marriage, an agreement to fast track a same-sex marriage case without the benefit of any discovery was reached by Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers and the ACLU prior to the ACLU filing suit. Here’s the sequence of events.

March 12 - Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers issues a public opinion that Oregon’s laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.

March 19 - Attorney General Myers issues press release stating that an "agreement" has been reached between his office and the ACLU that a suit will be filed no later than noon, Wednesday, March 24, challenging the state’s marriage laws. The "agreement" also includes "specific time lines for legal proceedings", specifying that all written arguments will be submitted to Judge Frank Bearden on or before April 14. [NOTE: the suit wasn't even filed before Judge Bearden at this time].

March 24 - The Multnomah County Attorney, Agnes Sowle, hand delivers a letter to Judge Bearden, confirming that a suit by the ACLU would be filed that day by noon, and that "all agreed" to brief the constitutional issues under the following time schedule: Proposed facts exchanged March 29 [today], motions for summary judgment by April 5, responses by April 12, and replies by April 14, with a hearing on April 16 or 19. [NOTE: at this time Multnomah County is not a party to the suit, but after the suit is filed, the county asked the court that it be allowed to intervene on the side of the ACLU to challenge the state's marriage laws, and intervention is granted by the parties].

March 25 - Fifteen Legislators file motion to intervene to defend the challenge.

March 26 - Judge Bearden denies intervention, saying the court will only be a "speed bump" in the challenge to the state's marriage laws.

Mat Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, stated, "I have never seen collusion of this magnitude on the part of the legal arm of the government to undermine the laws that public officials are required to defend. If the Legislators are not allowed to intervene to present an aggressive defense of Oregon's marriage laws, then the judicial system will be a mere sham in pursuit of a predetermined result to override the will of the people."