John M. Becker

BREAKING: Oregon Marriage Ban Falls

Filed By John M. Becker | May 19, 2014 3:08 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, marriage ban, marriage discrimination, marriage equality, Oregon

oregon_rainbow.pngMinutes ago, as promised, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane issued his ruling in Geiger/Rummell v. Kitzhaber, a lawsuit challenging Oregon's 2004 marriage discrimination amendment. And as expected, Judge McShane struck it down as unconstitutional.

"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 of the U.S. Constitution," McShane wrote in his decision, which hands the marriage equality movement its 17th consecutive victory in state and federal court since the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Windsor v. United States. Oregon is the 18th state where same-sex couples currently have the freedom to marry, including the entire West Coast of the continental United States.

He declined to stay his ruling, meaning that Oregon is now a marriage equality state. Several counties in the state -- including Multnomah County, the state's most populous and home of Portland, its largest city -- have promised to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately. Oregon law stipulates a three-day waiting period between the issuance of a marriage license and the marriage ceremony itself, but that waiting period can be waived at the clerk's discretion.

Go get married, Oregon!

From Judge McShane's ruling:

"[On] this issue of marriage I am struck more by our similarities than our differences. I believe that if we can look for a moment past gender and sexuality, we can see in these plaintiffs nothing more or less than our own families. Families who we would expect our Constitution to protect, if not exalt, in equal measure. With discernment we see not shadows lurking in closets or the stereotypes of what was once believed; rather, we see families committed to the common purpose of love, devotion, and service to the greater community.

"Where will this all lead? I know that many suggest we are going down a slippery slope that will have no moral boundaries. To those who truly harbor such fears, I can only say this: Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other... and rise."

Last month, Oregon's marriage ban went to court undefended after Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced she could not do so because it "cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review." Earlier today, NOM's last-ditch plea to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asking to block Judge McShane's ruling was denied.

Like retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who heard California's Prop. 8 case, Judge McShane is openly gay and the first openly gay judge on the federal bench in Oregon. The Washington Blade reports that McShane raised a child with his ex-partner and has another child with his current partner.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE, 3:30 P.M.: If you're an Oregonian and looking to marry a same-sex spouse, Oregon United for Marriage has all the information you'll need, right here.

UPDATE, 3:40 P.M.: Oregon United for Marriage reports via Twitter that marriages are already taking place, tweeting the following photograph of a same-sex couple with a marriage license:


Couples are flocking to clerk's offices to apply for marriage licenses, including these couples in Eugene, Oregon (again, via Oregon United):


Congratulations to all the happy couples in Oregon who are finally able to marry today!

More quotes from the ruling, reactions from LGBT groups, a copy of Judge McShane's decision, and the formal order (both via Equality Case Files) are after the jump.

More Quotes from the Ruling

"Oregon recognizes a marriage of love with the same equal eye that it recognizes a marriage of convenience. It affords the same set of rights and privileges to Tristan and Isolde that it affords to a Hollywood celebrity waking up in Las Vegas with a blurry memory and a ringed finger. It does not, however, afford these very same rights to gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry within the confines of our geographic borders."

"Generations of Americans, my own included, were raised in a world in which homosexuality was believed to be a moral perversion, a mental disorder, or a mortal sin. I remember that one of the more popular playground games of my childhood was called 'smear the queer' and it was played with great zeal and without a moment's thought to today's political correctness. On a darker level, that same worldview led to an environment of cruelty, violence, and self-loathing. It was but 1986 when the United States Supreme Court justified, on the basis of a 'millennia of moral teaching,' the imprisonment of gay men and lesbian women who engaged in consensual sexual acts...

"Even today I am reminded of the legacy that we have bequeathed today's generation when my son looks dismissively at the sweater I bought him for Christmas and, with a roll of his eyes, says 'dad ... that is so gay.'"

Reactions from LGBT Groups

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force

"We are delighted that Judge Michael McShane has finally brought a decade of uncertainty to a close with his ruling. Thousands of LGBTQ couples will be celebrating today across Oregon and around the nation. We are another step closer to marriage equality everywhere for everyone. This victory would not have been possible without the leadership of Oregon United for Marriage who are: Basic Rights Oregon, Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry, ACLU of OR, ACLU National, SEIU of OR, American Unity Fund, Gill Action, and countless other Task Force Action Fund staff and volunteers."

Human Rights Campaign

"Today's ruling from Judge McShane affirms what a majority of Oregonians already knew: discrimination has no place in our society, much less the state constitution. The plaintiffs and their tremendous attorneys Lake James Perriguey, Lea Ann Easton, Perkins Coie LLP, the ACLU of Oregon and the ACLU, should be incredibly proud of their historic victory. Thanks to their willingness to fight and the decades of work done by groups like Basic Rights Oregon and countless others, America is now one giant step closer to full equality nationwide."

American Civil Liberties Union

"The importance of Judge McShane's decision cannot be overemphasized," says David Fidanque, executive director of the ACLU of Oregon. "Our federal Constitution does not allow any state - or its voters - to deny same sex couples equal protection under the law simply because of who they are and who they love. This type of discrimination is wrong and it's also unconstitutional."...

"After years of working in every way possible way to bring the freedom to marry to Oregon, today is a historic day," says Vanessa Usui, board chair of Basic Rights Education Fund. "Starting with a ballot measure, and ultimately with this court victory, we have finally ensured that all loving, committed same-sex couples are free to marry in Oregon."

"Today Oregon joins the increasing number of states in embracing the freedom to marry for all," said Rose Saxe, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. "This decision brings us one step closer to ensuring that all loving and committed couples will be able to take care of each other and their loved ones with the protections and dignity that only come through marriage."

Freedom to Marry

"Today Judge McShane did the right thing for families, affirming that the denial of marriage to committed same-sex couples in Oregon is unconstitutional. In recognition of the strong support for marriage among Oregonians, no one with legal standing, including our state Attorney General, wanted to go down in history as defending discrimination. Across the country, the courts agree: same-sex couples and their families need the protections of marriage, and anti-marriage laws are indefensible. With over 70 marriage cases now making their way through the courts, today's decision in Oregon underscores that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry."


6:13-cv-01834 Decision by Equality Case Files

Formal order:

6:13-cv-01834 #119 - ORDER by Equality Case Files

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