Rummell v. Kitzhaber: Challenging Oregon’s Ban on Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

| April 5, 2014 | Comments (0)

On December 19, 2013, Rose Saxe and Amanda Goad (American Civil Liberties Union, Kevin Diaz (ACLU of Oregon), and volunteer counsel Misha Isaak and Tom Johnson (Perkins Coie, LLP), and Jennifer Middleton (Johnson, Johnson & Schaller, PC), filed a federal lawsuit  in U.S. District Court in Eugene on behalf of two same-sex couples who wish to marry in Oregon and Basic Rights Education Fund. In January, the judge consolidated the case with one filed earlier by Portland attorneys Lake Perriguey (Law Works, LLC) and Lea Ann Easton (Dorsay & Easton, LLP), and on April 23 will hear the oral arguments in the case at the federal courthouse in Eugene.

The lawsuit alleges that Oregon’s constitutional ban on marriage for lesbian and gay couples—Measure 36—violates the U.S. Constitution. 

The plaintiff couples in the Rummell v. Kitzhaber case are Paul Rummell and Ben West, and Lisa Chickadonz and Christine Tanner. Click here to read their bios.

Lisa and Chris Ben West & Paul Rummel

Paul and Ben reside in Portland, Oregon. Paul, a veteran of the United States Air Force, has been working in the renewable energy field for the last nine years and previously worked in the theatre arts. Ben is currently in a program to become a registered nurse, which he expects to complete in 2015, and previously worked for 12 years in the financial services industry. Paul and Ben recently adopted an eight-year-old boy they had previously fostered. They very much want to be legally married in Oregon not just so that others recognize the love and commitment of their relationship, but so that they will have the important legal protections for each other and their new family.

Chris and Lisa’s paths crossed in 1982 at the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) School of Nursing in Portland, Oregon, where Lisa was working on a Master’s degree and Chris was directing research. They began dating in 1985 and in September 1986 had their own, private commitment ceremony and exchanged rings. Soon, Lisa and Chris started a family. Their daughter, Katie, was born in 1991 and son, Jacob, was born in 1994. “We have been together for nearly 30 years. We have raised two wonderful children, are involved in our church community and are respected in our work. We have done everything we can to legally protect our family and each other,” Chickadonz says. “I was raised in a culture where marriage was a very important milestone. When you were lucky enough to fall in love with someone, you got married. I have loved Chris for half of my life and I want to marry her. It’s as simple as that.”

Basic Rights Education Fund is also a plaintiff in this case. BREF is committed to winning the freedom to marry for all loving, committed couples in Oregon, and and has been working with the ACLU of Oregon toward this goal for more than a decade, in the legislature, the courts and the public arena. 

Rummell v. Kitzhaber Documents

Rummell v. Kitzhaber Complaint 

Rummell v. Kitzhaber Motion for Summary Judgment

Rummell v. Kitzhaber friend of the court briefs

Court transcript of April 23, 3014 hearing on motions for summary judgment


Rummell v. Kitzhaber Timeline

  • December 19, 2013: Rummell v. Kitzhaber filed
  • February 18, 2014:  Rummell v. Kitzhaber motion for summary judgment filed 
  • April 22, 2014: National Organization for Marriage  filed an appeal to the case challenging Oregon’s marriage ban
  • April 23, 2014: Oral arguments
  • May 14, 2014: Judge Michael McShane denied the National Organization for Marriage’s motion to intervene and their emergency motion
  • May 19, 2014: Judge Michael McShane rules Oregon’s marriage ban is unconstitutional


Category: Featured, News, News: Marriage Equality

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.