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No Quick Ruling Expected In Oregon Gay Marriage Case

Amanda Peacher
OPB News

Attorneys for four same-sex couples called Oregon's gay marriage ban a "state imposed badge of inferiority" during arguments in federal court Wednesday.

The plaintiffs' attorneys told U.S. District Judge Michael McShane that Oregon's gay marriage ban violates the fundamental liberties of same-sex couples. And they argued that under the U.S. Constitution, marriage laws should apply equally to everybody.

After the 90 minute hearing, gay rights advocates gathered outside the federal courthouse in Eugene.

Ben West is one of the plaintiffs in the case. Standing next to his partner, Paul Rummell, he said, "This is about family and community and what's right for all Oregonians. And particularly, we do this not for ourselves and our own love and commitment, but also for our son. I want him to value marriage and to value relationship and love. And I want to be that example for him."

The judge will not issue a ruling in this case right away. That's because traditional-marriage advocates filed a last-minute motion this week to intervene in the case. The national group wants to defend the ban since Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said the state would not.

The National Organization for Marriage's John Eastman says his group is acting on behalf of Oregon voters who approved the same-sex marriage ban a decade ago.

"Their interests are no longer being represented by the attorney general of this state. When she decided not just to refuse to defend but to actively attack the position of her client, the people of Oregon, we think that position warrants a defense and quite frankly it's a strong defense and we hope to prevail."

Eastman will argue his case for intervening three weeks from now in front of Judge McShane. The judge gave no indication how long he'll take to issue a ruling after that.