May 23, 2014 / 7:40 PM / 4 years ago

After gay marriage legalized in Oregon, advocates abandon ballot push

(Reuters) - Advocates for same-sex marriage in Oregon, fresh from a major legal victory that paved the way for same-sex couples in the state to wed, said on Friday they no longer plan to put the issue on the ballot this November.

A federal judge on Monday struck down Oregon’s decade-old constitutional amendment that defined marriage exclusively as the union of a man and a woman. County officials almost immediately began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, including in Portland where some couples, anticipating the ruling, had camped in front of a county offices.

Oregon’s attorney general declined to mount a legal defense of Oregon’s gay marriage ban.

The ruling was one in a series of victories this month for advocates of expanding marriage rights to gays and lesbians. This week, a Pennsylvania court threw out the state’s same-sex marriage ban - making Pennsylvania the 19th state to allow same-sex marriage, after Governor Tom Corbett, a conservative Republican, declined to appeal the ruling.

Advocates in Oregon had long planned to bring the issue to voters in a ballot initiative this year. But with the court ruling, the effort became unnecessary, the group Oregon United for Marriage said in a statement to supporters.

“We are confident that the freedom to marry is secure in Oregon and that we do not need to move forward with the ballot measure,” said the group’s deputy campaign manager, Amy Ruiz. “It is time to celebrate this victory for Oregon.”

A separate ballot initiative that would have created an exemption to Oregon’s non-discrimination law for businesses that claim a moral objection to opt-out of participating in a same-sex wedding has also been abandoned.

Reporting By Edith Honan

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