Federal judge strikes down Oregon gay marriage ban


Gay couples won the right to marry in Oregon after a federal judge on Monday struck down a voter-approved ban as unconstitutional. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Michael McShane makes Oregon the 18th state to allow same-sex marriage.

Diane Groff and Liz Cahill celebrated the news by finalizing their wedding guest list on an iPad at the Great Pacific Wine & Coffee Co. in Pendleton. The women, both teachers at McLoughlin High School in Milton-Freewater, asked for leave three weeks ago, anticipating an emotional reaction to the verdict on Monday.

“It would have been hard to keep it together,” said Cahill, who teaches social studies in a different building on campus from where Groff teaches science.

The couple plans to marry in September.

“Our Save the Date cards are already in my Snapfish queue,” Groff said.

Groff and Cahill have been together for 21 years. When Multnomah County started issuing licenses in May of 2004, they drove to Portland with another couple to wait outside the courthouse where the line wrapped around the block. They stood in the rain, helicopters flying overhead and police standing ready in case of trouble. Four hours later, they had their marriage certificate in hand after being married by a volunteer minister on the courthouse steps.

The joy was short-lived. The Oregon Supreme Court nullified more than 3,000 licenses issued to gay couples that year.

“They sent us our money and our annulment a few months later,” Groff said.

This time around, the couple couldn’t contain their elation as they accepted hugs and congratulations from a stream of friends at the Great Pacific.

Groff and Cahill weren’t the only ones celebrating. Jerri Flynn and Janet Jones, of Pendleton, have been together for 37 years. They had considered marrying in another state.

“We’re glad we waited for Oregon,” Jones said. “It’s a very happy day.”

Pendleton native Jeff Read is one who didn’t wait. He and his husband, Ben Kaufmann, got married in Washington, D.C., last summer.

“I’m very happy today thinking of my friends back in Oregon who will be able to have the recognition Ben and I enjoy,” said Read, an analyst for the Food and Drug Administration. “I’m happy Liz and Diane and their families don’t have to wait another day.”

While couples lined up at Portland-area courthouses and others around the state, none have stopped into the Umatilla County Courthouse yet for a license. Steve Churchill, who heads the county’s records department, said the computers were updated to print proper application forms for same-gender couples.

“Before, they said ‘groom’ and ‘bride,’” Churchill said. “Now they say ‘Party A’ and ‘Party B.’”

Not everyone is pleased at the ban’s demise, including the Oregon Catholic Conference.

The group released a statement after the ruling that said, “It is a sad day for democracy when one federally appointed judge can overturn, without any representation, the express will of the people of Oregon.”

The National Organization for Marriage on Monday filed an emergency appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The group is arguing it should have been granted the opportunity to defend the marriage amendment when it filed a motion last month that was rejected by the judge.

“The people of Oregon are entitled to a defense of their decision on marriage rather than being abandoned in court,” said NOM President Brian Brown on the organization’s website.

McShane addressed critics in his opinion paper by speaking directly to those who fear that legalizing same-sex marriage is the beginning of a slippery slope.

“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.”



campbell_rd says...

We need to throw these judges out on their ear. The voters spoke and the judge has no right to overturn the will of the people.

Posted 21 May 2014, 8:34 a.m. Suggest removal

Calzaretta says...

This was the same argument that was made when women were denied the right to vote, when slavery was legal (and allowed in the Constitution) and when interracial marriage was illegal. The argument is not logical.

Posted 21 May 2014, 1 p.m. Suggest removal

BillMortimer says...

Since when can voters write and pass a state constitutional law that is in violation of the U.S. Constitution?

Posted 21 May 2014, 9:20 p.m. Suggest removal

Calzaretta says...

Exactly right. Thanks for pointing that out.

Posted 22 May 2014, 6:15 a.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

These judges seem to base their decisions on there own personal beliefs than on the main reason they are there - to uphold the law and the constitution.

Posted 21 May 2014, 8:45 a.m. Suggest removal

Kevconpat says...

Well in this case- this judge and I believe decisions recently in all other states in which same sex marriage was prohibited originally, passed by voter and or state action has been found to be unconstitutional. There is 'constitutional precedence': set last year... into federal law. The Supreme Court 5-4 decision. Remember?
Are you two still saying that many folks are not citizens worthy of equal protection constitutionally for the right to marry the one they love?
Sounds like you two are beating a nearly dead horse. My question to you two, is why?
My marriage to my Husband is legal, finally here in Wa. and federally, too. This summer we will have been married 10 years.(Thanks to Canada)... Our families, friends, work associates and others understand this has been a learning process and story of acceptance along the way.
I suggest you two just look at it for what it really is. Thank you.

Posted 21 May 2014, 11:23 a.m. Suggest removal

Calzaretta says...

I completely agree.

Posted 21 May 2014, 1:02 p.m. Suggest removal

Calzaretta says...

A victory for equality. In a few years this will be a non-issue. The support for same sex marriage is at an all time high with people under 25 (over 70 percent support it). For the first time over half of the entire US population regardless of age supports same sex marriage.

The right time, the right side of history, the right thing to do. I applaud this decision and the ones that will follow.

Dan Calzaretta

Posted 21 May 2014, 12:58 p.m. Suggest removal

Kevconpat says...

Eloquently said, friend.
-Kevin Patterson-Sluga

Posted 21 May 2014, 3:37 p.m. Suggest removal

Iopine says...

Obviously a citizens majority vote means nothing anymore?

Posted 22 May 2014, 3:52 p.m. Suggest removal

NewInWW says...

When those citizens vote for something unconstitutional, yes, their vote means nothing.

If folks don't like the results mandated by the Constitution, there is a process by which it can be amended. Until then, it is the controlling law of the land, which judges are empowered and required to interpret and apply. Many judges have done just that in striking down bans on same sex marriage in a number of states.

Popular votes are one of the things that the Constitution goes to great lengths, in many creative ways, to limit and control.

Posted 22 May 2014, 8:25 p.m. Suggest removal

Kevconpat says...

namvet, the majority of our American society has changed from absolutely against marriage equality to 'for marriage equality'. No one made anyone person change through force. It has just happened over the past 10 years or so with common sense awareness of what being an American is and what our shared interests of decency and fairness should mean. In the judicial arena, judges are now reflecting this awareness and the change that Americans are clearly asking for. This is why these voter approved edicts are being dropped because they are against the US constitution; equal protection clause, due process and so forth. You however,clearly are still against marriage equality- and that is fine. You are entitled to your personal beliefs.
Really though, how the hell is it that homosexuals get you so bothered is beyond common sense. I mean, aren't there any heterosexuals around these parts that just piss you off. Lol! Grow a spine and move on. Life's short. Be a little more accepting and stop being so grumpy all the time! This is America; one nation under God for liberty and justice for all. Ever hear that!?

Posted 22 May 2014, 8:46 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

If the majority are "for marriage equality" how come they voted against it?

Personally, I don't think the government has any business meddling in marriage or favoring or disfavoring people who have entered into one, whatever the participants define it to be.

Fundamentally, it's a religious institution which many non-believers have adopted in the same way many of them celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving.

It makes no logical sense to consider marriage a "civil" institution and then say that the voters have no right to define what it means. All of us probably have objections to SOME version of "marriage", whether it be incestuous, bigamous, polygamous, etc., but if voting on which should be recognized by the state is not the way to decide what options are allowed, what is?

Posted 24 May 2014, 3:15 p.m. Suggest removal

NewInWW says...

To equate gay marriage - two consenting adults, not related, who elect to get married and thereby obtain all of the LEGAL rights that "marriage" entails - with incestuous, bigamous or polygamous marriage, is simply the wrong analogy. There are valid reasons a state might want to prohibit incestuous, bigamous or polygamous marriage - a number of federal judges have determined that there is no similar valid state reason to ban gay marriage.

Second, if states tomorrow decided that they would no longer sanction "marriage," that any marriages already recognized would be converted to civil unions, and henceforth the state would only sanction civil unions for gay or straight couples, leaving "marriage" to religious institutions, I don't think any federal judge anywhere would say they couldn't. It is precisely the state appropriation of "marriage" that allows federal judges to strike down laws banning gay "marriage."

Finally, slavery, denial of women's rights, denial of civil rights were all supported by a majority of people in a variety of states. Would you have left those states to make decisions about those issues by popular vote?

Your understanding of the Constitution appears to be pretty superficial and largely limited to the Second Amendment.

Posted 25 May 2014, 8:48 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

In your continuing effort to misunderstand what I say, you now have decided that I don't understand the Constitution because I mention majority vote. Wrong. I mentioned majority vote not because I think it trumps the Constitution but because Kevconpat was making the ridiculous argument that judges were overturning popularly enacted bans because of their "awareness" that gay marriage "is the change society is asking for."

There are "valid" reasons why states banned gay marriage, too. They were just not constitutional reasons (see, we agree!). Other than traditional notions of what marriage means, which though "valid" is not a constitutional reason, I frankly don't see any constitutionally supportable reason for banning incestuous, bigamous or polygamous marriages either, assuming adulthood of the participants. I'm sure that for the next few years, judges will struggle to fabricate some, but it is inevitable that those arguments will ultimately fail, because they rely almost entirely on majoritarian moral traditions and impulses, and as we know, that's not enough.

Posted 27 May 2014, 8:58 p.m. Suggest removal

NewInWW says...

What part of "It makes no logical sense to consider marriage a "civil" institution and then say that the voters have no right to define what it means " did I misunderstand? In the context of this thread, you are clearly defending the right of the citizens of a state to vote against gay marriage.

Your issue is not me "misunderstanding" what you say; no, your issue is that I understand exactly what you say and then show how you're wrong.

As for incestuous, bigamous and polygamous marriages - please explain to me who the offended class of people may be? One can't point to an inherent characteristic of people wanting those relationships and then say that they are being discriminated against based on that characteristic.

The general prohibition on incestuous relationships is based on the potentially adverse consequences of inbreeding. Bigamous and polygamous relationships have the potential of creating a large number of family units that are unable to support themselves, thus increasing the burden on society in general.

So in addition to there not being a definable class that is being discriminated against based on prohibitions against incestuous, bigamous and polygamous marriages, I can also pretty easily articulate reasons why a state might ban those relationships without reference to any religious based principles.

Posted 28 May 2014, 9:35 a.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

The "offended class" in the same-sex marriage argument is simply the class of all people who want to marry someone of their own sex. The "offended class" of any other type of banned marriage is exactly the same: All people who wants to marry someone the law and/or tradition say they shouldn't marry.

Even if homosexuality is an "inherent characteristic", a question on which the jury is still out, marriage throughout history has not been only about sex drive. Plenty of people marry for other motives - financial, companionship, procreation and the rearing of children, etc. The desire to procreate is a pretty strong one - certainly "inherent" - and a man can do that best with multiple wives. The Constitution would not allow a man to be forbidden to marry on the grounds he could not support one family, so on what basis can he be told he can't marry on the grounds that he might theoretically not be able to support two or more? And what if he CAN support more?

Your arguments against incestuous or polygamous marriages are merely covers for your own distaste for such marriages. Once the right to marry contrary to the traditional definition of marriage is established as a Constitutional right, on what rational basis under the Constitution do the voters get to forbid people from marrying whom they want just because you or other voters don't like it? There really is none.

Posted 31 May 2014, 9:27 a.m. Suggest removal

NewInWW says...

This is your usual blather when cornered.

Your inability to admit that homosexuality is hardwired doesn't make it any less true. There's a lot of case law and legislation protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation that seems to suggest that legislators and judges get it, even if you don't or prefer not to.

Your ridiculous attempt to say that gays and lesbians are just the same as any other group that wishes to violate customary norms of who can marry is just that - ridiculous.

As for my reasons a state might wish to prohibit incestuous, bigamous or polygamous marriages - I'll let the course of case law judge which of us is wrong; but I'm pretty confident that you are, as usual, barking up the wrong tree in the wrong forest.

Posted 31 May 2014, 6:54 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

So if my post is ridiculous blather, it should have been very easy for you to identify the rational basis I asked for. Since you didn't, I'm pretty confident you realize you can't.

As for the Courts, a Federal Court in Utah has already struck down Utah's law criminalizing polygamous relationships on constitutional grounds (in December of last year), and as you know, that was the first step in the same-sex marriage legal revolution. I have few doubts that the next steps will follow, in time.

Posted 1 June 2014, 3:37 p.m. Suggest removal

NewInWW says...

I already gave you rational bases for banning incestuous, bigamous and polygamous marriages. Rather than attempt to explain why the reasons I gave wouldn't withstand Constitutional scrutiny (remember, no protected class is involved in those relationships), you elected to ignore them, i.e., business as usual for you.

Posted 1 June 2014, 5 p.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

Those were not rational bases, as I already pointed out. You chose to ignore those remarks, which, as you would say, is business as usual for you when you have no response. Now you invent a new theory of law, that makes gay persons a "protected class", a status that has not been granted to them on the federal level, nor on the state level in most states.

NewInWW, you occasionally make at least superficially sound arguments in support of your position, but your snarkiness and offensive tone in doing so is so unpleasant, and your dishonesty in confronting my own arguments is so persistent that I don't really see the point in engaging further with you.

Posted 1 June 2014, 9:50 p.m. Suggest removal

NewInWW says...

Engage or don't, that's clearly your choice. However, other than your bare assertion that my reasons why a state could ban incestuous, bigamous or polygamous marriages are "not rational," you've still not described why they are not rational or why they are improper bases for banning those types of marriages.

As for "protected class," 20 states have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, and it certainly seems that the federal government is heading that way, at least with respect to marriage.

But that's not really the point as you and I both know. The point is that gays who are not permitted to marry are not permitted to do so based on an inherent characteristic - their homosexuality. So far as I'm aware there is no similar inherent characteristic that inclines one towards incestuous, bigamous or polygamous marriage, hence making banning those relationships subject to much less scrutiny.

Yes, some of my comments are snarky. That said, you try to hide your own snarkiness behind phrases like ""superficially sound arguments" and the like. I try to be more direct when I think you're simply bloviating about some topic, as you tend to quite a bit.

Finally, I try not to make snarky comments about you, but rather your comments. If I've crossed that line, I apologize.

Posted 2 June 2014, 7:01 a.m. Suggest removal

Kevconpat says...

PearlY, FYI and others interested:
Gallup poll 8-11, May 2014
Asked of American 18years and older: Are you in support of gay marriage; (Marriage Equality) The answers are quite interesting.
Quite a chasm here- In support...Democrats 74%. Republicans 30%
Aged 30 and under, 78%. Aged 65 and over, 42% .
Finally after a tally of random calls to those of voting age the results were 55% in favour to 42% not supporting. Margin of error +- 5%.

Last week, friends of ours married in a small civil ceremony at the downtown courthouse. Yes, they are a same-sex couple. After 29 years together they tied the knot. In attendance were two friends , their son and daughter in law and their only grandchild.
It doesn't get any better. Family.
Love prevails.
Ask yourself PearlY, how in any way has this diminished your or anyone else's marriage?
In my opinion it has strengthend everyone's marriage and made our Republic all the more healthy and stable.
Good day.

Posted 29 May 2014, 7:20 a.m. Suggest removal

PearlY says...

Kevin, I've said this several times before: I don't CARE whether you get married, civilly or religiously, or not. Have at it.

I just think it's a bizarre quirk of the law that adopts what is purely a religious ceremony, imparts purely civil attributes to it, and then denies the power of the voters to say what it is. It's as if "marriage" was a legal orphan - no one can say what it is because doing so inherently denies someone the right to have one and everyone's entitled to have one (or more) however they define it.

NewInWW tries to pretend that there are "good reasons" why incestuous or polygamous can be banned, but those are specious reasons. Preventing "inbreeding" in incestuous marriages? That assumes that marriage is somehow related to procreation, and haven't we already decided that's not a valid basis on which to define it? Multiple family units to support in polygamous marriages? But that's what we have now, when we allow people to divorce and remarry, regardless of the children created before, during and after. None of those reasons justify forbidding consenting adults to "marry" whomever they want, whenever they want. Because who gets to say what marriage is? Answer: Nobody.

Posted 31 May 2014, 12:47 a.m. Suggest removal

Kevconpat says...

The legal uniting of two - to - no others. Live happily ever after through the reality of not so good days and others filled with accomplishment and joy- or find out , whoa it just isn't working and file for(divorce).
To me anyway, it's so simple.
Marriage in this society is not purely a religious ceremony; where do you get that notion from?
It can be and in your own words; have at it. It's one personal right. Because someone believes in a religious based male and female only marriage society this should not lend over reach power to impose a 'No Way' path for marriage to same sex couples, whom ironically are often religious in their tenants as well.
Human beings: our customs and our self imposed restraints make us an interesting species. Ooops, now I've opened up yet another can of worms!
-Enjoy the beautiful sunny weekend, married, single or searching.
I'll take a rest from this debate and leave it to others for a while.

Posted 31 May 2014, 6:53 a.m. Suggest removal

barracuda says...

Question for all of the Christian commenters....

In the Holy Bible there is a verse that tells us we are not to judge others! The God of all will judge each and every one . No one is exempt (according to the Bible).

*Luke 6:37
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."*

*Romans 14:13
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.*

So why are you so quick to judge others on their beliefs? Every one of you will be held accountable for your judgement of Gays! If you are not comfortable with the way that others live, leave it alone worry about all of your own *"plank in your eye"*

Posted 1 June 2014, 4:54 p.m. Suggest removal

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