Oregon Gay Marriage Ban is Struck Down

By Lauren Fogelstrom ’15, Nico Hamacher ’15 and Jubilee Lopez ’15

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales signs a marriage certificate after officiating a wedding ceremony for two men at the Melody Ballroom after the overturning of Oregon’s gay marriage ban on May 19, 2014 (Photo: Nico Hamacher)

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales signs a marriage certificate after officiating a wedding ceremony for two men at the Melody Ballroom after the overturning of Oregon’s gay marriage ban on May 19, 2014 (Photo: Nico Hamacher)

Oregon’s ban on gay marriage was struck down today by U.S. District Judge Michael McShane which immediately jump-started marriages across the state.

Both the plaintiffs and the defendants in the case urged McShane to rule the ban unconstitutional since it violated the equal rights of gay and lesbian couples. The defendants were led by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum who publicly announced in February she would not fight any efforts to strike down the ban.

The court found “no legitimate state interest that would justify the denial of the full and equal recognition, attendant rights, benefits, protections, privileges, obligations, responsibilities, and immunities of marriage to same-gender couples,” wrote McShane in his decision.

The decision may have been influenced by McShanes own sexuality. He is the only openly gay member of the United States District Court for the District of Oregon and one of only nine openly gay judges in the judiciary.

McShane based his ruling off of the Fourteenth Amendment and stated that the ban, “violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and that as such it is void and unenforceable.”

In a request following the decision the National Organization for Marriage, an anti-gay marriage group asked for an emergency stay, an action that would have halted any immediate marriages. The request was denied by the court.

Upon hearing the verdict, which was made public shortly after noon, Oregon couples immediately began to flock to courthouses around the state.

In Portland their excitement and joy was displayed as couples received marriage licenses before proceeding to the Melody Ballroom where ceremonies were conducted for each couple.

“We’re so excited, its kind of long overdue but now that’s its happening I’m totally freaking out and can not believe it,” exclaimed newlywed Richard Glenn immediately following his marriage ceremony.

Mayor Charlie Hales was present at the Melody Ballroom and in anticipation of the legalization of gay marriage, he got credentialed to officiate marriage ceremonies. He commented, “This is a long time coming and a very good day.”