The history of LGBT rights in the United States has been fraught with violence, stigma, and marginalization. In the 1950’s gay rights activists began pushing back against laws that criminalized homosexual-type relationships and sexual activity. Following New York’s Stonewall Riots in 1969, the Gay Liberation cause was ignited in Oregon and the plight for equal rights gradually came into the spotlight.

Over the last several decades, the fight for equality and civil rights in communities throughout Oregon has not been an easy one. In 1971, Oregon legislature repealed the sodomy law, and it wasn’t until 2003 that the Supreme Court struck down all remaining sodomy laws in the United States. Portland adopted civil rights protections for gays and lesbians that banned anti-gay discrimination in municipal employment. Eugene began to follow, but a conservative backlash strengthened the religious right.

In 1987, Governor Neil Goldschmidt signed an executive order that prohibited discrimination against homosexuals in state employment. Conservative backlash continued throughout the 1980s and 1990s, as HIV/AIDS further alienated the LGBT community.

The Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA), a conservative political group, took action against those fighting for gay rights, and eventually achieved anti-gay rights laws in 27 counties and cities in Oregon. For those seeking equality, the path has been a continual one step forward, and two steps back.

Fast forward to the 2000s, and state hate crime laws were passed to protect lesbian, gay, and transgendered people. In 2007, same-sex couples could adopt children, and received freedom from discrimination in state-supported schools.

Other states began repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, and in turn, began allowing same-sex marriage. Oregon also began recognizing same-sex unions, and the U.S. Supreme Court rulings of U.S. v. Windsor in 2013, and Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, it was ruled that under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.

History of Oregon`s Allowance for Sodomy

In 1971, Oregon repealed the sodomy statute, but added “accosting for deviate purposes” to the criminal code. In 1981, the Oregon appeals court struck down the addition, and same-sex sexual intercourse was decriminalized except in situations that involve underage and non-consensual sex crime cases.

Oregon`s Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage

Oregon began recognizing same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions in 2013. In 2014, same-sex marriage was legalized in Oregon after U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane ruled that the state’s banning of such marriages was unconstitutional.

Of course, after Obergefell v. Hodges, the rest of the nation joined Oregon (and other states like it) and recognized the legality of same-sex marriage.

LGBT Adoption and Parenting in Oregon

Same-sex couples may adopt children and stepchildren in Oregon. Surrogacy is available for male couples, and IVF and assisted insemination are available for female couples. Additionally, single LGBT individuals are permitted to petition for adoption in Oregon.

The number of children who are living with LGBT parents continues to rise, and as adoption and same-sex parenting becomes more commonplace and widely accepted, the trend will continue. Although there is growing concern over the Trump administration and its placement of new conservative justices to the Supreme Court, any reversal of Obergefell v. Hodges would not stop Oregonians from obtaining second parent adoptions. Parental rights and adoption are determined by state law, and unless Oregon experiences a political shift, LGBT parents will continue to adopt children if they so choose.

What Types of Discrimination Protection and Hate Crime Laws are Available in Oregon?

Discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity was banned in Oregon in 2008. Hate crimes based on the same are also covered under Oregon’s laws, as well as the state’s laws on anti-bullying, cyberbullying, and harassment. Oregon is one of 18 states that address hate or bias crimes that are based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

What About Gender Reassignment Protection in Oregon?

Gender dysphoria is the inner conflict a person feels when the physical or assigned sex at birth is not what he, she, or they identify with outwardly and inwardly. In Oregon, the individual can undergo gender reassignment surgery that would alter the person’s physical appearance to match that of the gender to which he/she/they identify.

The age of medical consent in Oregon is 15 years of age, and has been since 1971. In 2015, Oregon opted to include gender dysmorphia in the list of conditions covered by the state’s Medicaid plans. As a result, individuals that are age 15 and over are eligible to receive gender reassignment surgery.

Should I Consult an Attorney for LGBT Rights in Oregon?

The rights of the LGBT community are continually changing and evolving. If you have experienced any issues or discrimination pertaining to LGBT rights in Oregon, you should contact a family attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will provide guidance on your case, and if necessary, will represent your best interests in court.