Oregon Ruling Marks 13th Consecutive Win For Gay Marriage
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A federal judge threw out Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban Monday, marking the 13th consecutive legal victory for gay marriage advocates since last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned part of a federal ban.
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane in Eugene ruled the voter-approved ban unconstitutionally discriminates against same-sex couples, and he ordered the state to stop enforcing it.
"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," he wrote. "Families who we would expect our constitution to protect, if not exalt, in equal measure."
State officials earlier refused to defend Oregon’s constitutional ban, and said they’d be prepared to carry out same-sex marriages almost immediately if McShane struck it down.
In Portland, couples lined up outside the Multnomah County clerk’s office in anticipation of Monday’s ruling. Among them were Laurie Brown and Julie Engbloom, who got engaged on their 10th anniversary in April.
"We always knew we wanted to spend our whole life together," Brown said. "This opportunity has come. It feels right. Everything has fallen into place."
The National Organization for Marriage sought to intervene in the cases brought by four gay and lesbian couples, and defend the ban on behalf of its Oregon members. But McShane rejected its request.
The group then appealed, and on Monday a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied its bid for an emergency stay.
McShane joins judges in seven other states who have struck down same-sex marriage bans, though appeals are underway.
Many predicted last year’s Supreme Court ruling would create a pathway for states to act, as polls showed a majority of Americans now support gay marriage. Indeed, lower-court judges have repeatedly cited that decision when striking down bans.
Here’s a closer look at where things stand across the country:
HOW MANY STATES ALLOW SAME-SEX MARRIAGE?
Gay and lesbian couples can legally marry in 17 states and the District of Columbia. The two most recent states to make the unions legal were New Mexico and Hawaii, both of which did so in late 2013. Oregon’s ruling is not expected to be challenged, which would make it the 18th state where gay marriage is legal.
HOW MANY STATES ARE CONSIDERING MAKING GAY MARRIAGE LEGAL?
In 11 states, federal or state judges recently have overturned same-sex marriage bans or ordered states to recognize out-of-state marriages. Appeals courts are reviewing those decisions. Ten are in the hands of federal appeals courts, and one is with a state appeals court.