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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Will Not Defend Itself In Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuits

Chantal Andrea/File photo

Oregon will not defend itself in a pair of federal lawsuits challenging the state's prohibition of same-sex marriages.

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, a Democrat, said Thursday that she thinks the 2004 voter-approved prohibition violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause.

Four Oregon same-sex couples are suing the state for the right to marry.

Portland attorney Lake Perriguey represents one of the couples in the lawsuit.

"It is heartening to know and to hear government officials acknowledge that there is no constitutional basis to discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgender people from participating in important fundamental civil institutions, specifically marriage," Perriguey said.

A federal judge could rule in the case this spring.

Rosenblum said gay marriages will not be recognized unless and until the judge rules in favor of the plaintiffs.

The section of the Oregon Constitution barring same-sex marriage was put there by voters ten years ago.

A group collecting signatures for a ballot measure that would remove the amendment said it will hold its petitions until the judge issues a ruling