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Appeals court hears arguments in Oregon lawsuit on DHS protections for LGBTQ kids • Oregon Capital Chronicle

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Appeals court hears arguments in Oregon lawsuit on DHS protections for LGBTQ kids • Oregon Capital Chronicle


A federal appeals panel heard arguments Tuesday in a Malheur County woman’s lawsuit that challenges state adoption rules intended to protect  LGBTQ children on the basis of religious and free speech rights.

Jessica Bates, who lives in Vale, sued the state in U.S. District Court in Portland in April 2023 after the Oregon Department of Human Services blocked her from qualifying as an adoptive parent. The state requires adoptive parents to support LGBTQ children they adopt – something that goes against Bates’ Christian views. Bates has said she believes marriage is between a man and a woman and God created people to embrace their gender, not change it. 

The state stopped her application and Bates sued, seeking a court order to overturn the state rule and allow her to continue the process. The district court denied Bates’ request for a preliminary injunction to proceed with an adoption while the legal challenge to overturn the state rule proceeds. 

Bates’ appeal of that decision was heard Tuesday by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

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The case centers on parental and children’s rights and pits a deeply religious widowed woman with five biological children against a state rule designed to protect vulnerable children. It has broad implications and could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, potentially affecting tens of thousands of families nationwide. Similar cases are pending in Washington state and Vermont.

Jonathan Scruggs, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, represents Bates. The Arizona-based organization takes on cases across the nation with a focus on religious freedom, some involving abortion and LGBTQ issues.

During the livestreamed Seattle hearing, Scruggs argued that Oregon’s rule impacts others besides Bates, regardless of their religion. For example, Orthodox Jewish parents with similar beliefs about marriage could not adopt an Orthodox Jewish child under Oregon’s rule, he said. 

The system is about taking care and placing every child,” Scruggs said. “It’s not about any particular child. And that’s the whole nature of the system. It’s to have a diversity of views so that you can match children with the best family.”

Scruggs also pointed to a federal rule – finalized under the Biden administration – that designates qualified providers for gay or transgender children without penalizing foster parents who do not care for them. That rule became effective in July.

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“Oregon has categorically excluded applicants up front, and really taken away the choice,” Scruggs said.

Philip Thoennes, an Oregon Department of Justice attorney representing the state, said  the district court’s denial should remain in place. 

Thoennes argued that the rule does not hinder constitutionally guaranteed free speech rights and is focused more broadly on the conduct of parents with children. So while speech is part of a parent’s expected conduct with children, that is just one aspect, he said. 

Expectations for parents to support children and their identities encompass other areas, such as supporting a child’s choice in clothing and hairstyle, he said.

“There are myriad ways that a foster parent, or any parent, for that matter, any caregiver, provides child care,” Thoennes said.

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The Oregon Department of Human Services rule only applies to state adoptions, not private ones. 

First Amendment argument

The appeals court could side with the district court’s ruling or overrule it, which would allow Bates to continue the adoption process. In either case, the suit will be kicked back to the district court to decide the legality of the state’s rule.

“Anytime you have a government entity excluding people because of their religious views and then compelling them to speak things that violate their core convictions, that goes to the heart of the First Amendment,” Scruggs said in an interview with the Capital Chronicle.

Scruggs said Oregon needs an adoptive system that works for all children of diverse backgrounds, pointing to Oregon’s long inability to placer foster children, sometimes boarding them in hotels.

Oregon is basically saying we would rather put children in hotel rooms than be exposed to these loving families,” Scruggs said. “It’s just an egregious violation of the First Amendment.”

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The Oregon Department of Human Services declined to make its attorneys or foster system officials available to answer questions. 

In an email, agency spokesperson Jake Sunderland declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said the agency’s practices are aimed at inclusivity that takes into account the well-being of children of all backgrounds.

At a time when gender diverse people, policies, and laws are under attack, it is important to reinforce our values and practices related to the children and families we serve,” he said in an email. “We are committed to creating a safe and supportive environment for all children and young people, regardless of their gender identity.”

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Oregon Department of Forestry hires two new specialists in battle with beetles

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Oregon Department of Forestry hires two new specialists in battle with beetles


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PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — The battle against invasive beetles has gained two new champions.

The Oregon Department of Forestry hired two support specialists to aid communities in responding to the infamous emerald ash borer, which are spreading across the state and pose a devastating threat to native ash trees.

The hope is Matt Mills and Kat Bethea will help mitigate the threat the green beetles pose.

“We are pleased to have found two who are so well qualified and highly motivated to do this important work,” said Scott Altenhoff, ODF Urban and Community Forestry program manager.

Emerald ash borers originated from Asia and were first spotted domestically in Michigan in 2002. The tree ravagers have since spread across the west, locally hitting Forest Grove in 2022. Their main target is in the name — ash trees. The females lay eggs on the trunks, and the larvae eat tunnels under the bark through the cambium layer. That makes it impossible for the trees to move water and nutrients from the roots to leaves, eventually killing them.

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Read more at PortlandTribune.com.

The Portland Tribune and its parent company Pamplin Media Group are KOIN 6 News media partners



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Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team 1 sent to Boneyard Fire – Elkhorn Media Group

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Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team 1 sent to Boneyard Fire – Elkhorn Media Group


MONUMENT – (Press Release from ODF IMT 1)

Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team 1, Incident Commander Joe Hessel, received a briefing this afternoon from local resources as transfer of the fire begins.

Incident Management Team 1 was recently deployed to the Salt Creek Fire, had mandatory rest, and is now assuming command of the Boneyard fire within 24 hours’ notice of the need.

The Boneyard fire faces critical weather and fire behavior as hot temperatures and low relative humidity is forecast throughout the week.

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Crews and resources have been ordered to increase personnel and equipment to fight the Boneyard Fire.

The Boneyard Fire is currently 8,285 acres and was started by lightning.

Closure: The Bureau of Land Management has closed public lands along the John Day River from Kimberly to Dale, and from Kimberly to Service Creek. This is to allow firefighters to work without interference.

Road Closures: A closure remains in effect for Highway 395, between mile posts 50 through 90, beginning 35 miles South of Pilot Rock.

Evacuations: Level 2 (Be Set) and Level 3 (Go Now) evacuations are in effect. For updated evacuation information, visit the Grant County Emergency Management Office’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100068819321423, or sign up for the Grant County  Emergency Alert System at https://member.everbridge.net/825462649520134/login.

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For current fire restrictions, go to https://gisapps.odf.oregon.gov/firerestrictions/PFR.html. For current fire info, go to www.odfcentraloregon.com.






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Oregon Ducks Football Continues Spencer Webb Tribute Hike

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Oregon Ducks Football Continues Spencer Webb Tribute Hike


To many Oregon Football fans, it may feel hard to believe that it’s been two years since Oregon Duck tight end Spencer Webb passed away in a cliff-diving accident near Triangle Lake. Webb’s passing rocked the college football community, especially his teammates that played alongside him.

Since Webb’s untimely death, Oregon Football head coach Dan Lanning began a new tradition to honor Webb. Every year, towards the end of summer workouts, the team summits Spencer’s Butte, a popular hiking spot in Lane County that coincidentally bears the same name as Webb.

“Hey listen, this is something we do every single year,” Lanning said in the beginning of the recent video posted to Oregon Football’s X account, “On your way up, you’re thinking of everyone that got you here.”

The video then plays a previous interview with Webb, as he recounts how the people in his life helped him get to his dream: playing for Oregon. As Webb’s interview plays, shots of Oregon athletes climbing the trail are stitched together.

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Oregon Ducks tight end Spencer Webb (18) catches a pass for a touchdown during the second half against the Arizona Wildcats.

Sep 25, 2021; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks tight end Spencer Webb (18) catches a pass for a touchdown during the second half against Arizona Wildcats linebacker at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks won the game 41-19. / Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The caption of the video, “More than just a hike. Every step has a purpose,” highlights the message behind this tribute.

“You can’t get up here without thinking about our fallen brothers,” Lanning says when the team reaches the top of the butte.

Lanning then mentions Webb, as well as Khyree Jackson, a recent Oregon Duck corner and NFL Draft pick who was tragically killed in a car accident on July 6. The team then gathers together before heading back down the trail.

People leave candles at the entrance to Autzen Stadium during a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Oregon's Spencer Webb.

People leave candles at the entrance to Autzen Stadium during a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Oregon tight end Spencer Webb Thursday, July 14, 2022. Webb died Wednesday in an accident at Triangle Lake. / Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA

Two tight ends that worked alongside Webb are still at the university: junior Terrance Ferguson and redshirt senior Patrick Herbert. Ferguson was shown quite a few times in this tribute video.

Webb was a redshirt junior for the Oregon Ducks when he passed away. After recovering from an injury in the 2020 season and coming back with a heightened presence on the field in 2021, Webb was expected to be an even bigger influence the next year. He recorded four touchdowns, 31 catches, and 296 yards in his career with the Ducks.

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He was 22 years old.



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