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Hearing Could Provide Answers In Oregon Gay Marriage Debate

Amanda Peacher
OPB News

Wednesday could be a big day in the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in Oregon. A federal judge in Eugene will hear arguments from a group that wants to defend a voter-approved ban on gay marriage.

Four same-sex couples sued the state to overturn the 2004 ballot measure that defined marriage as only between one man and one woman. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum declined to defend the law, so a national group filed a last-minute motion to be allowed to defend the measure on the state's behalf. U.S. District Judge Michael McShane will hear oral arguments on whether the National Organization for Marriage should be allowed to intervene.

John Eastman, the group's chairman, says his group filed the motion on behalf of Oregon voters who approved the decade-old ban on same-sex marriage.

"An attorney general's obligation is to defend a statute if there are plausible arguments to be made in defense of it," he says. "And she's not only not done that, but has affirmatively started attacking the statute it's her job to defend."

Eastman says his group will likely appeal if the judge rules they cannot intervene in the case. It’s unclear whether that action is allowed or will be up to the judge’s discretion.