U.S. District Judge Michael McShane today declared Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. At least one county office immediately started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples who were waiting to wed.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum in February joined the list of state attorneys general who refused to defend their states’ marriage amendments in court. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) petitioned the court to take up the defense on behalf of Oregonians, but was denied. This morning, NOM appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals, also asking judges for a pre-emptive stay againstMcShane’s ruling, which NOM anticipated would go in favor of gay marriage. The appeals court rejected NOM’s plea.
Because both sides in the lawsuit favored same-sex marriage, no one with an opposing viewpoint has legal grounds to make an immediate appeal of the decision. Since McShane allowed his ruling to take effect without waiting for an appeal, as some judges in other states have done, gay marriages in Oregon are poised to continue in the short-term. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, of which Oregon is part, will eventually consider an appeal of this month’s decision by a federal judge to overturn Idaho’s gay marriage ban.