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Federal Judge In Oregon Rules In Favor Of Gay Marriage

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network

Same-sex couples now have the right to marry in Oregon. A federal judge Monday overturned the state's ban on gay marriage. U.S. District Judge Michael McShane's ruling clears the way for weddings to begin immediately. 

Same-sex couples lined up this morning outside the Multnomah County marriage license office anticipating a ruling in their favor. Gay rights advocates say couples plan to get married throughout the afternoon and evening in Portland and Eugene.

The Judge's opinion comes in a pair of lawsuits filed last fall by four same-sex couples.  The couples had sued for the right to get married in Oregon despite a decade-old ballot measure that banned gay marriage in the state. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum decided not to defend the law. She said she didn't think the ban would stand up to a federal constitutional challenge and so she didn't want to use state resources to defend it.

Less than two days before oral arguments were scheduled last month, the National Organization For Marriage filed a Motion to Intervene. The national group wanted to defend the ban in the absence of a state defense. Judge McShane turned down the motion, saying NOM had no standing in the case. NOM then appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for an emergency stay.   The court denied that motion this morning.

If the judge had ruled against same-sex marriage, gay rights advocates in Oregon were prepared to file a state initiative to overturn the ban at the ballot box this fall.