Queer Heroes NW 2021:
Jann Carson

Jann Carson has been on the staff of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oregon since 1986. In her current position as deputy director, she assists the executive director in overall administration and management of programs, staffing, and volunteers. Twice in her tenure with the organization, she has served as interim executive director, most recently from mid-2019 into early 2021.

Jann is not an attorney, but in her positions, she has helped make things happen. This is significant because her organization as done so much for LGBTQ equality, and Jann is an out lesbian.

Beginning in 1988, Jann worked on every statewide campaign to defeat the Oregon Citizens Alliance’s anti-gay ballot measures. She also coordinated teams of lawyers to bring legal challenges to dozens of local anti-gay ballot measures around the state.

Jann assisted with the ACLU’s participation in several successful lawsuits to advance rights for LGBTQ people, such as Rummell v. Kitzhaber which, combined with the case Geiger v. Kitzhaber, helped bring marriage equality to Oregon.

Tanner v OHSU resulted in the first appellate court decision in the country to declare that a state could not simultaneously require marriage as a condition for a public employee to qualify their life partner for medical benefits while at the same time prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from marrying. Therefore all public employers had to extend the same benefits offered to the spouses of employees to the partners of gay and lesbian employees.

John Doe v Oregon Resort established that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee based upon the employee’s real or perceived HIV status. Sims v Besaw upheld the city of Portland’s ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Jann served on Basic Rights Oregon’s legal advisory group for nearly 20 years and was a member of the founding board of the Lesbian Community Project.













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