Blogs: Law

a blank Oregon marraige certificateSo by now it’s getting to be old news: same-sex couples in Oregon have the right to marry on equal footing with opposite-sex couples.  Many Oregonians are breathing a sigh of relief, and some are ready to plan their weddings right now!   Deciding whether or not to marry can be a very personal and emotional matter.  And planning a wedding, goodness knows, has myriad practical, interpersonal and emotional aspects.

But deciding whether to marry and/or planning a wedding may also have legal implications.  For same-sex couples, the legal implications can be complex, unfamiliar or just plain unclear.  Never fear, though -- librarians are here to help!  Let’s pick apart some of the questions same-sex couples might face as they consider marriage:

Deciding if you want to marry

The opening up of Oregon marriage laws is an unequivocal joy for some couples who want to marry.  For other individuals and couples, this new ability to marry legally here in our home state raises both questions and concerns.

One great way to navigate this challenge is to learn more about your options.  The local PQ Monthly’s April/May 2014 issue is all about weddings, and includes both practical and philosophical articles with a variety of perspectives.

There is lots of information in this post about getting married and about the legal implications of marriage -- what about not getting married?  Unmarried Equality is a California-based civil rights organization which advocates for “equality and fairness for unmarried people, including people who are single, choose not to marry, cannot marry, or live together before marriage.”  Their website provides information about and support for a variety of ways to be unmarried, as well as some resources for and about people who consciously choose not to marry.

Actually getting married

Have you decided to marry?  In Oregon, the first technical step in getting married is to get a license, from the county in which you will wed.  The Multnomah County Division of Assessment, Recording & Taxation issues marriage licenses in Multnomah County, and their website lists all the requirements and fees for getting a marriage license -- and explains the steps you’ll follow once you have your license. The ACLU of Oregon also has a helpful FAQ about getting married in Oregon, which includes a directory of the marriage license offices for all 36 Oregon counties.

Once you have your license, you’ll need to find an officiant -- usually this is a religious leader or judge.  Your county clerk or registrar’s office may have a list of judges and other officials who can perform a marriage.  Here’s a list of Multnomah County judges who are available to marry people (pdf), from the county recorder’s office.

Next, have your ceremony!  

Miscellaneous practical matters

Making it Legal bookjacketMarriage can change your tax status or have an effect on your estate planning, property ownership, child custody arrangements, and a whole host of other business-like issues.  Making It Legal: A Guide to Same-sex Marriage, Domestic Partnerships & Civil Unions, by Frederick C. Hertzwit & Emily Doskow (both attorneys!) is chock full of practical information and advice about the many legal and practical issues that arise for same-sex couples who marry or register their relationships.  The book is extra new -- just updated in January 2014 -- and should have mostly up-to-date information (though Oregon marriage law changed in May, so remember to look to more current resources for specifics on Oregon same-sex marriage specifically).

If Making it Legal isn’t for you, check out one of these other books about LGBTQ couples and the law.

D-i-v-o-r-c-e

Dare I say it, you may also want to think about what will happen if your relationship doesn’t last until death do you part.  If this is an issue you want to consider, it might be helpful just to hear about other LGBTQ people’s experiences with divorce.  Kathryn Martini’s thoughtful column about her own divorce in the July 2013 issue of the local PQ Monthly is one place to start.

Making it Legal also talks about special issues in same-sex divorces -- as do several of the library’s other books on LGBTQ couples and the law.  Or, you might want to consult with an attorney to get advice about your own unique situation:

Getting expert legal help

Do you have other specific questions about marriage and its implications for your taxes, child custody, inheritance and the like?  If so, you may want to get personal legal advice.  Or perhaps you and your spouse have already married or entered into a formal domestic or civil partnership, and you have questions about your status.  I’m a librarian and not an attorney, so I can’t give legal advice.  But librarians are always happy to help you locate resources!  

Here are a couple of great places to start with your specific same-sex marriage legal questions:

The civil rights organization Lambda Legal has a legal help desk (email or call 1-866-542-8336) which “provides information and assistance regarding discrimination related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and HIV status.”  Lambda Legal also maintains a number of resources you can use to see the status of same-sex relationships nationwide, or track the constantly changing legal issues around marriage and family law for LGBTQ individuals, couples and families, including legal issues for same-sex couples who are not able to or who do not marry.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights provides legal assistance to people with LGBTQ-related legal questions, as well as a small library of resources on specific legal issues

And, the Oregon State Bar has a lawyer referral service that you can use to help get in touch with a local attorney who works in the right area of law for your specific needs.

 

Do you have other questions?

Please, ask a librarian anytime for more resources to help with your queer legal research (or really, with your anything research!).  Or visit your local county law library for a wider range of legal materials. 

And be sure to check out the library’s booth at the Pride Festival, June 14 and 15 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park!


Although we are always happy to help you locate resources and give you search tips, it is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law; we may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.


 

Divorce, estate planning, landlord/tenant issues, immigration, arrests and citations... Life is full of legal questions. How do you search for answers without being taken for a ride? We can suggest some excellent resources that can help you out.

A good place to start is Oregon Legal Research, maintained by law librarians. Learn how to research the law and represent yourself in court; find the answers to frequently asked questions (When can I leave my kids home alone? Where can I get a free power of attorney form?); and more. They also maintain a comprehensive Oregon and Portland-metro Legal Assistance Resources guide (pdf) that can help you find local organizations that specialize in legal areas including disability rights, bankruptcy, political activism, bicycle law and crime victims' rights.

Link to Legal Aid Services of OregonOregon Law Help provides free and verified legal information for Oregonians. There are articles in many languages to get you up-to-speed on your rights and resources when it comes to your home, your job, government benefits and more. The site also helps you find a Legal Aid office near you.    

The Oregon State Bar public information page has user-friendly legal information, assistance in finding and hiring a lawyer, links to low cost legal help and more.

The Oregon Judicial Department can help you file a case, find a legal form and represent yourself in court. Check out their page devoted to family law for assistance with child custody and support, divorce, domestic violence, and parenting plans. The Multnomah County Circuit Court website can help you answer your questions about Family Court.

If you have questions about your rights as a renter, you might want to contact the Community Alliance of Tenants. This statewide, grassroots, tenants-rights Link to Oregon Council of County Law Libraries.organization provides renters' rights information online; if you can't find the information you need, call the Renters’ Rights Hotline at 503-288-0130.

You can always contact us at the library and we can help you locate resources that might be helpful, or visit your local county law library for a wider range of materials.

Though we are always happy to help you locate resources and give you search tips, it is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law; we may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.

While the Better Business Bureau recommends donors avoid any charity spending less than 65 percent of their money on their charitable mission, a small but persistent group of charities continue to spend most of their money on fundraising and administration. A groundbreaking new law passed in Oregon in 2013, one aimed at protecting donors from charities that spend too little on their charitable programs and services. House Bill 2060 eliminates the state income tax deduction for donors who give money to charities that fail to spend at least 30 percent of their donations on their charitable mission. For charities that spend more than 70 percent of donations on management and fundraising, Oregonians who donate to them cannot not take state income-tax deductions on those gifts.

The Nonprofit Association of Oregon has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions for nonprofit organizations regarding the new law and The Oregon Attorney General's office compiles an annual list of the 20 Worst Charities that are registered to do business in Oregon. To find out how much of your donation will go to a charity’s actual purpose, search the Oregon Department of Justice's database of registered charities.

Multnomah County Library subscribes to Guidestar, a database available at the Central Library that provides information on programs and finances of charities and nonprofits. Need help finding information on your favorite charity? Librarians are happy to help!

 

The new year is upon us! 

In addition to remembering to write 2014, making and following our new year’s resolutions, and welcoming the gradual return of the light, we also have a slew of new laws in the state of Oregon that will take effect January 1, 2014.

Large stack of papers.

The news outlets, such as The Oregonian and KVAL 13, have published stories about the new laws, providing a digest of some of the most interesting or unique laws soon to be in effect.

Highlights include Senate Bill 444 A that makes smoking in a motor vehicle with a minor under the age of 18 present a secondary traffic violation ($250 fine for first offense). The Oregon American Lung Association has additional information online as part of the Smokefree Cars for Kids campaign. Another motor vehicle law of interest for many may be Senate Bill 9 B that increases the fine to a maximum of $500 for using a cell phone or other mobile communication device while operating a motor vehicle, some limited exceptions do apply.

A more specific law due to take effect January 1, 2014 is  House Bill 2104 A that will prohibit medical imaging procedures done for any other reason than a medical purpose ordered by a licensed physician or nurse practitioner.  While this bill stops the creation of ultrasound images by nonmedical professional made purely as keepsakes, another bill House Bill 2612 will now permit postpartum mothers to take home their placentas from the hospital if they so wish. Even more unique is House Bill 2025 B that establishes economic liability for bison owners who allow their bison to run at large and cause damage.

Oregon State Legislature Bill and Reports IconsAs you can see there is a new law for almost every occasion. If you are interested in browsing all of the bills from the Oregon State Legislature, even the ones that did not pass, you can view them online.  The bills are broken up into the 2013 Regular Session and the 2013 1st Special Session.  From the  Oregon State Legislature website you can search the bills by Bill Number, Bill Text, or Bill Sponsor by clicking on the Bills icon in the upper right hand part of the screen.  You can also access a list of just the Senate and House Bills that were actually enacted in the Regular Session and the Special Session.  These reports and a number of other legislative reports can be found by clicking on the Reports icon. You can also learn how an idea becomes law and review a flow chart illustration of the process.  For a more animated version try Schoolhouse Rock's I’m Just a Bill.    

As always librarians are not lawyers and cannot give legal advice, including selecting or interpreting legal materials, but we can happily make suggestions about research tools to use to find the information you are seeking.

Wishing you the best in a lawful new year!

 

There has been much tragedy in the news lately and consequently, much talk about how we prevent further tragedies. One topic we are hearing a lot about involves gun control, and today the Senate will be voting on the current gun control measure in Congress. We hear from gun control advocates, we hear from gun rights activists - there are a lot of opinions and facts out there - and it can be overwhelming. But the library is here to help.

We have an amazing resource called Congressional Quarterly Researcher (or CQ Researcher*) that consists of weekly reports written by experienced journalists on current issues. Each report includes an overview, background, data tables, images, opposing viewpoints and bibliographies, and features comments from experts, lawmakers and citizens on all sides of every issue. The different topics they cover are varied, and one of the most recent reports was on gun control*, published in March of 2013 . Whether you are doing a report for school, preparing an op-ed piece for your local paper, or just staying well-informed, CQ Researcher is an excellent first step.

Also see this recent post titled Gun rights and gun control, which includes a reading list.

And as always, if you want to dig even deeper, Ask a Librarian! We're here to connect you to the information you want and need.

* Note: you will need your valid Multnomah County Library card number and PIN to access this database from outside the library

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