This is an historic day for our state. I am delighted that Judge Michael McShane struck down Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage, finding no legitimate state purpose justifies the preclusion of gay and lesbian couples from civil marriage. The U.S. District Court concluded that Oregon’s constitutional ban is not defensible under the United States Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
I did not take lightly my decision not to defend the Oregon constitution in this matter. That is why we presented the court with all of the arguments we were aware of that had been made in other jurisdictions. And that’s why my office carefully explained in a lengthy brief and at oral argument why making those arguments in this case would have been at odds with our oath to defend the United States Constitution.
Today’s decisive ruling shows that the U.S. District Court also considered these arguments and rejected them. The ruling affirms our state’s commitment to equal protection under the law. It says, plainly and simply, that under the supreme law of the land, it is not okay to deny same-sex couples in Oregon the same right to marry that is given to opposite-sex couples.
As I said three months ago, marriage is the way loving couples become family to each other and to their extended families. As the court said: “Creating second-tier families does not advance the state’s strong interest in promoting and protecting all families.” I would like to personally congratulate and welcome the many families that will soon be recognized as a result of today’s historic ruling.
Kristina Edmunson, Department of Justice, Kristina.Edmunson@doj.state.or.us, 503-378-6002