Same-sex marriage in Oregon received a jolt on Thursday. According to a report by Oregon Live on Feb. 20, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum stated in a legal filing that she will not defend the state’s gay marriage ban.
Rosenblum’s decision was based on recent challenges on the federal court level whereas as she cited that the ban “cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review.”
Currently U.S. District Judge Michael McShane is hearing a legal challenge to the ban that was voted into the state Constitution in 2004. As Oregon is a more progressive state than states such as Oklahoma and Utah where bans have already been struck down, a similar ruling in Oregon seems inevitable. That is the message Rosenblum sends in a brief filed with the judge.
State Defendants will not defend the Oregon ban on same-sex marriage in this litigation. Rather, they will take the position in their summary judgment briefing that the ban cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review. In the meantime, as the State Defendants are legally obligated to enforce the Oregon Constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage, they will continue to do so unless and until this Court grants the relief sought by the plaintiffs.
What this action by Rosenblum does is puts both the plaintiffs and main defendant in the case on the same side in opposition of the ban as unconstitutional. Supporters of gay marriage feel having the ban struck down in court will be a quicker path to marriage equality in the state as they have given up on efforts to gain enough signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot for voters to decide.
The judge in the case could issue a ruling as early as late spring or in the summer. Oregon is sandwiched between two states where same-sex marriage is legal. The state of Washington where voters voted in favor of a same-sex marriage bill and the state of California as a result of the historic Supreme Court ruling back in June that overturned Proposition 8.