A court hearing has been scheduled on a request by the Alliance Defense Fund for a postponement of Oregon’s new “domestic partnership law” until all votes on the issue are counted, an effort county clerks have refused to pursue.
An organization called Concerned Oregonians worked to put HB 2007 and SB 2 before Oregon voters in 2008. Those bills were rammed through the last state Legislature and make up a combination that bestows on same-sex couples the rights given married couples, critics have said. The legislation also provides vast new legal power for those who choose homosexual, bisexual or other alternative lifestyles in their newly designated status as protected minorities.
But when the state declared a referendum seeking to place the issue on the 2008 state ballot was five signatures short, and county clerks refused to correct mistakes that had been made in the counting, the ADF filed a lawsuit.
Its motion, to be heard in U.S. District Court on Dec. 28, seeks a court order delaying implementation of the new law, scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, until all votes are counted.
In a new column on the issue, Alan Sears, chief of the ADF, noted that the issue of marriage consisting of – and only of – one man and one woman is supported overwhelmingly in the United States. Twenty-seven of 28 states where voters have decided the question, they have limited marriage to one man and one woman.
“Even more impressive is the average ‘pass rate’ of such measures: 69 percent,” Sears noted.
“Those seeking to fabricate same-sex ‘marriage’ have long recognized the American public is a roadblock to their success. In 1998, after ADF-allied litigation allowed Alaska citizens to vote on (and pass) a constitutional amendment barring same-sex unions, the ACLU executive director declared: ‘Today’s results prove that certain fundamental issues should not be left up to a majority vote.’
“When the (new) referendum was submitted to the Oregon Secretary of State on Sept. 26, signatures exceeded the required number by more than 6,000. However, the Secretary of State announced there were not enough signatures to sustain the referendum. The evaluated ‘sample’ was said to be only five signatures short. If you wonder how this could happen, you aren’t alone. As it turns out, there is a very clear explanation – many of the signatures were wrongfully rejected,” Sears said.
“Signatures were invalidated for allegedly not matching their voter registration cards, being illegible, or coming from unregistered voters. But according to ADF attorneys who examined the signatures, several of those kicked out did match, were legible, and the affected voters actually were registered. In other words, many valid signers were ignored,” he continued.
Clerks have “adamantly”‘ resisted efforts by signers to authenticate their signatures. “One county clerk even told a rejected signer, in person, and to their face, ‘tough nuggets,’” Sears said.
ADF Senior Legal Counsel Austin R. Nimocks, who is working on the challenge to the legislation, said county clerks need to fulfill their duty, “which is to make sure that every citizen’s voice counts.”
“Our country is founded on the basic principle of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is un-American that Oregon voters are being denied the right to have their voice count in an important referendum,” he said.
The lawsuit alleges Oregon voters from 12 counties have been disenfranchised by administrative fiat, because their signatures were rejected and they were not allowed a procedure to restore them to the petition.
The hearing on Dec. 28 will be in U.S. District Court in Multnomah County, and will seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in order to prevent the state’s creation of “domestic partnerships” on Jan. 1.
“The instant action is one for injunctive and other relief wherein the constitutionality of Oregon’s statutory and administrative scheme relating to petitions and/or referendums to place a statewide advisory question upon the ballot, is in issue,” the motion says. “Plaintiffs are signers of Referendum 303 that claim … the statutory and administrative scheme utilized by the Defendants unconstitutionally disenfranchised them.
“Though more than enough signatures were presented to sustain Referendum 303, the Oregon Secretary of State currently lists Referendum 303 as needing only five (5) signatures to qualify for the November 2008 ballot. The Plaintiffs in this matter currently number twenty-eight (28) and additional Plaintiffs will likely be added. Under Article IV, Section I of the Oregon Constitution, the people of Oregon have the final say over whether HB 2007 shall become law. Once a referendum is certified for the ballot, the law addressed by the referendum is reverted to the status of only a bill, and is no longer a law unless and until the voters approve it at the next general election.
“If HB 2007 is allowed to take effect on January 1, 2008, its currently scheduled effective date, substantial and irreparable harm will occur upon the Plaintiffs, and the tens of thousands of other Oregonians who also signed Referendum 303, as their collective voices which were sufficient in number would be unconstitutionally suppressed,” the motion said.
Bill Burgess, the clerk in Marion County, confirmed the state had given county clerks instructions to follow a “precedent” and not correct any incorrectly classified signatures they may have been told about.
“We also have a legal obligation to follow the guidelines and precedents of the past and our attorney has told us, and the Secretary of State has advised us that there is no place in this petition signature checking process for a person to come in later on and attest that that was their signature,” he told WND.
“There’s no direct ban [on corrections],” he said. “Well, it’s not specified, and both the Secretary of State and my legal counsel have told me not to go there.”
While the Oregon Constitution expressly provides a 30-day window for officials to verify signatures, officials announced only 12 days into the process the referendum failed for lack of signatures.
“Defendant County Clerks, individually and collectively, who were approached and otherwise contacted … refused to take any efforts to uphold the ‘utmost integrity’ of the process and address the ‘unexpected issues’ of signatures that were improperly excluded,” the lawsuit said.
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski
The case developed when 54 state lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski rejected the will of the people to approve and sign into Law HB 2007 and SB 2.
For 148 years Oregon had recognized marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and voters four times have addressed the issue, most recently in 2004 when they collected more than a million votes and by a substantial 57-43 percent margin decided to keep traditional marriage defined as being between only one man and only one woman.
But the newest legislation simply rejects that vote, and even makes a move to address such citizen “attitudes,” requiring schools to seek to change the minds of those who don’t support homosexual duos.
David Crowe, a leader of Restore America, one of the groups coordinating the petition effort, told WND that there were a number of county clerks who colluded with state officials who endorse the special privileges for homosexuals to prevent people from voting on the issues.
“It’s political,” he said. “There are people who are hostile to us in three or four counties who are in collusion with state officials behind the scenes, those who we know are not for us.”
Crowe said he knew of the instructions from the Secretary of State to counties not to make any corrections in the tabulation; he said he had gotten a copy of a state e-mail to that effect.
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