In its ongoing effort to insert itself into places where it’s not wanted. the National Organization for Marriage has been trying to make itself the legal defender of Oregon’s marriage ban. Since the state attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, will not defend the law, NOM has a fantasy that it can swoop in and pick up the legal charge.
As with so many other fantasies, ain’t gonna happen.
Federal Judge Michael McShane rejected NOM’s last-minute effort to be named the defender of the ban, providing a multitude of reasons why the organization doesn’t have the right to meddle in Oregon state affairs. For one, NOM claims that it is representing three anonymous county clerks who want the law upheld, but McShane noted that NOM wouldn’t provided him with the names of the clerks. (NOM says it’s trying to protect them from harassment.)
But the main reason McShane cited is that NOM doesn’t represent the state. “The attorney general is answerable to voters,” the judge said. “NOM is not.”
McShane is one of the few openly gay judges on the bench, and he went to great lengths to explain that he was not acting out of bias. NOM had wanted McShane, who is raising a child with his partner, to recuse himself simply because he is gay. McShane pointed out that he never attended political events in support of marriage equality and claiming that the issue had little legal interest for him.
NOM attorney John Eastman said he wasn’t disappointed in the outcome. “The Supreme Court weighs more than any of the circuit court judges in the country,” said Eastman, whistling past the graveyard.
With NOM’s petition out of the way, McShane might be getting ready to issue a ruling soon on the state ban. A ballot initiative is scheduled for November, but backers of the initiative said that they would withdraw it if there was a favorable ruling by July 3.