Weddings Start In Oregon as Gay Federal Judge Strikes Down State’s Marriage Ban

Oregon couple_Deanna_Geiger_Janine_Nelson_660Continuing the uninterrupted string of victories for marriage equality (this was lucky 13), Federal Judge Michael McShane has struck down Oregon’s marriage ban for violating the rights of lesbian and gay couples, with his ruling taking place immediately. Shortly after McShane’s eloquent and sometimes personal ruling, marriages began in the state, as Deanna Geiger and Janine Nelson, a couple for 31 years who were plaintiffs in the case, wed in Portland.

“Because Oregon’s marriage laws discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without a rational relationship to any legitimate government interest, the laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” McShane ruled.

One reason why marriages could start immediately is that the state attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, refused to defend the law and asked that it be struck down. With no one to appeal McShane’s decision, the weddings began to take place at once.

The ruling means that a ballot measure that was proposed for the November election will no longer need to proceed. The original marriage ban was passed by voters in 2004.

Last week, McShane threw the National Organization for Marriage’s suit to serve as the defender of the law out of court. NOM had challenged McShane’s right to serve on the case because he’s a gay man raising a child with his partner.

McShane ruled that tradition could serve as a “rubber stamp condoning discrimination against longstanding, traditionally oppressed minority classes everywhere.” He got even more personal at the end of his opinion, when he spoke of the generational changes in attitude that have occurred in his lifetime.

McShane, who is 53, said he grew up “in a world in which homosexuality was believed to be a moral perversion, a mental disorder, or a mortal sin.” Given those messages, he said it was not a surprise that “many of us raised with such a world view” would want to “enshrine in law those traditions we have come to value.”

McShane then directly addressed people fearful of marriage equality. “I know that many suggest we are going down a slippery slope that will have no moral boundaries. To those who truly harbor such fears, I can only say this: Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other … and rise.”

The Oregon ruling wasn’t the only good news from the courts on Monday. A federal court ordered Utah to recognize the marriages that took place before a ruling striking down that state’s marriage ban was put on hold after being in effect 17 days. Gov. Gary Herbert (R.-As If You Had To Ask) had refused to recognize the marriages, but U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ordered the state to “afford these same-sex marriages all the protections benefits and responsibilities given to all marriages under Utah law.” 

The only question remaining: how many more victories will it take before opponents of marriage equality acknowledge that it’s inevitable?

Photo Credit: GLAAD