Oregon same-sex couples fight gay marriage ban with state on their side

EUGENE, Oregon Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:08pm EDT

1 of 2. Supporters of same-sex marriage gather for a rally in Portland, Oregon April 22, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Steve Dipaola

EUGENE, Oregon (Reuters) - Lawyers for four same-sex couples challenging Oregon's prohibition on gay marriage appeared before a federal judge on Wednesday to argue their case, even as the state declined to defend the ban.

Oregon's attorney general declined to defend the state's constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2004 that defined marriage as a union exclusively between a man and a woman.

The judge was not expected to rule immediately.

Officials from several other states, including California, Nevada and Virginia, have likewise refused to defend such laws in court as gay marriage proponents make legal headway across the country.

Marriage rights have been extended to gay couples in 17 states and the District of Columbia in a trend that has gained momentum since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last June that legally married same-sex couples nationwide are eligible for federal benefits.

That decision, which struck down part of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, has been cited by a number of federal judges in subsequent opinions overturning state bans on gay matrimony.

"As creative as state attorneys can be, and we can be very creative, we could not come up with a justification" for maintaining a prohibition on gay marriage, special Assistant Attorney General Mary Williams told a 90-minute hearing in a packed Eugene courtroom.

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane asked several of the attorneys present whether they thought it was appropriate to tell Oregon voters, "You wasted your time."

Sheila Potter, deputy chief trial counsel for the state, replied, "We're asking you to say people don't get to vote on other people's rights."

Attorney Misha Isaak, representing some of the plaintiffs, said Oregon's marriage laws place a stigma on gay couples and their children and make them feel that "their relationships are unworthy of equal recognition."

"This is a state-imposed badge of inferiority," he said.

Although opponents of gay marriage had no one to argue their case on Wednesday, the National Organization for Marriage has filed a brief seeking to defend the ballot measure in court. A May 14 hearing is scheduled to decide if the group has legal standing to intervene.

(Reporting by Teresa Carson; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (3)
moosemyfrnds wrote:
in Matthew 5, Jesus said he didn’t come to abolish the Torah but to fulfill. He takes the sexual morals of the Torah to a higher level. Number two, in Matthew 15, he says all sexual acts committed outside of marriage defile a human being. And in Matthew 19 he says marriage as God intended it is the union of one man and one woman for life.

Apr 24, 2014 2:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
moosemyfrnds wrote:
where are the outspoken protesters now:

Cleveland Hopkins Muslim cab drivers refuse to drive with Gay Games signage,” April 5, 2014. The Muslim Cab drivers claim “for religious reasons,” citing rooftop placards that are advertising the upcoming Gay Games. Gay organizations were quite bold in condemning Republicans, GOP, Tea Party, and any other anti gay postings or comments. AND NOW, They remain completely silent; the gay community, Liberals, The Left, and Democrats were are those outspoken cry babies now?

Apr 24, 2014 2:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
moosemyfrnds wrote:
Men dress to resemble a woman, and then the new “him” or “she” decides he/she’s a lesbian. So he/she is still having ” s e x” with women, but now he/she gets to go into the women’s bathroom. Now, in California schools, we will start hearing about teenage boys, claiming to be “transgender” on Monday, walking into a girls’ bathroom with a camera phone on Monday, and then changing their “orientation” back on Tuesday.

Apr 24, 2014 2:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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