We Won A Thing In Oregon! Judge Rules Marriage Ban Unconstitutional, State Attorney Cool With It

A federal judge just struck down Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage, hours after an appeals court denied the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage’s request for emergency stay. Couples in the state can begin marrying immediately.

“Because Oregon’s marriage laws discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without a rational relationship to any legitimate government interest, the laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” U.S. District Judge Michael McShane wrote Monday.

Six other states — Idaho, Utah, Michigan, Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas — have legalized same-sex marriage since the landmark Defense of Marriage Act ruling last summer, but Oregon is unique in that no one in the state is in a position to appeal the decision. State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum entered the discussion earlier this month on behalf of the plaintiffs, who include four same-sex couples seeking the right to marry. Rosenblum objected to NOM’s request to delay the federal decision, stating that she was the only one who had the ability to represent the state’s interests, and that those interests would not be served by prolonging the case. McShane heard oral arguments from the plaintiffs last month, but with Rosenblum declining to defend the ban, no one was in court to argue against the couples.

Thankfully, that seems to be all there is to it! With no one left who can argue in favor of the ban in court, couples can start marrying without fear of the uncertain fate faced by hundreds of couples in Arkansas after last week’s legal fracas there. Congratulations, Oregonians!

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Kaitlyn is a recent college grad, nanny and journalist living in New York — although, truth be told, she spends most of her time on Tumblr. Talk to her about intersectionality, Battlestar Galactica, and bacon if you want to be best friends.

Kaitlyn has written 55 articles for us.


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    I can’t believe how freaking long this has been going on. I remember my friends and I in the 90’s protesting prop 9 at Pioneer Square. http://en.wikipedia.org/…/Oregon_Ballot_Measure_9… That was over 20 years ago. Makes me want to get gay married all over the state just to celebrate heheh. WOOOOOO! Yay gay Oregon!

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    Do you think y’all will do a round up article of all the states where courts have struck down marriage bans lately and where the cases are at, what other states have litigation in progress, etc? Not trying to be demandy but so much has happened lately (yay!) that my head is spinning and I can’t keep track of it all and I haven’t been able to find articles that talk about all the cases together. I don’t even know who in Virginia is appealing the case since I’m pretty sure our AG supports marriage equality. I’ll probably google that one after I submit this comment though.

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      We’ve been trying to keep up with things as they happen because it can be kind of hard to predict what’s going to happen before these rulings come down, but I can certainly look into doing a comprehensive roundup! Thanks for the suggestion!

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    I legit teared up in my office when it was announced, NOM can fuck right off.

    When I read through Judge McShane’s opinion, I was really struck by this line: “Although the state has a legitimate interest in promoting stable families, its interest does not stop with families of opposite-gender couples.” Our families matter too and if you really want to promote stable families then you can’t ignore our existence.

    Also, the entire conclusion is definitely worth reading, it’s more personal than you often find in opinions. And it ended on such a positive and optimistic note: “Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other…and rise.”

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      Oregon was one of the first! Multnomah County issued over 1000 marriage licenses to same sex couples in March 2004 because they believed that to deny them was unconstitutional. Then it went to the courts and the gay marriage ban was passed :(

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    I was working on a fishing boat off the Oregon Coast when this happened… all of a sudden I got a text message that said, “The ban on gay marriage in Oregon has been struck down!!” and I totally started crying! Hahaaa so stoked!

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