Oregon’s Second Chance

Federal Appeals Judge Rules Oregon’s Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

A U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judge on Wednesday ruled that Oregon’s ban on gay marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.

“Under rational basis review, Measure 36 [Oregon’s 2004 constitutional ban on same sex marriage] does not pass constitutional muster,” Judge Harry Pregerson wrote in his ruling. “Here, Oregon does not state any reason for preventing same-sex couples from marrying.”

The article points out that this isn’t a direct challenge to the ban but the result of a discrimination lawsuit brought about by the denial of federal benefits.  Seeing how Pregerson views Measure 36 as unfairly targeting a minority group and considers DOMA unconstitutional, it’s likely he’ll rule in their favor.

And seriously, this should have happened by now.  The majority of our population is west of the Cascades, in generally urban / suburban areas, and pretty liberal.  Granted the rest of the state probably voted for McCain and Palin both in 2008 and 2012, but I had thought we outnumber them.  Maybe with the general movement of public opinion toward acceptance of homosexuality for what it is, we have a better chance of making some progress this time.

There’s a push to get yet another referendum on the 2014 ballot to change the constitution yet again in order to allow same sex marriage.  I don’t know enough about the law to know if those people who had gotten married back in 2004 before the ban are suddenly “married” again or not.  I also don’t know how many times the state constitution or the Oregon legislature will be forced to revisit this every time there’s enough signatures on a petition to get it on the November ballot.  Maybe if enough time passes and enough couples are married with benefits and legal rights firmly in place, it will (or at least should) be significantly harder to undo it with a simple vote, but we’ll see.

It’s my hope that legalization among some of the “fence sitting” states will move along if the Supreme Court rules in June that DOMA is unconstitutional and the Faith and Credit clause must be upheld.  If not, it will be left to the states … with the only good news, as I said, being that if enough time passes after its legalization, there’s generally less of a chance of repeal.

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