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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 23 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 21
Marriage is on in Oregon
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Marriage is on in Oregon

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane ruled on May 19 that Oregon's ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional, opening the way for Gay and Lesbian couples to marry.

Couples were reportedly lining up at county courthouses as early as 5 a.m. in anticipation of McShane's ruling, and began to apply for marriage licenses as soon as it was announced. McShane did not stay his decision to allow for an appeal, and state officials say they agree that the law is unconstitutional.

Only hours before McShane announced his decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a petition from NOM to intervene in the case and block McShane from ruling.

'Appellant's emergency motion to stay district court proceedings pending is denied... The briefing schedule established previously remains in effect,' the Ninth Circuit said in a court order.

The appellate court gave NOM until August 25 to demonstrate why it should be allowed to intervene in the case.

McShane rejected NOM's petition to intervene on May 14 after the anti-Gay group admitted it could not find any residents of Oregon who wanted to be listed as a defendant upholding the state's marriage ban.

Unless NOM can convince the Ninth Circuit that it should be allowed to defend Oregon law, there will be no one with standing to appeal McShane's decision to the circuit court.

McShane, an Obama appointee, is openly Gay, and his written opinion in the case reflects his own experiences, as much as legal scholarship.

'Oregon recognizes a marriage of love with the same equal eye that it recognizes a marriage of convenience,' he wrote. 'It affords the same set of rights and privileges to Tristan and Isolde that it affords to a Hollywood celebrity waking up in Las Vegas with a blurry memory and a ringed finger. It does not, however, afford these very same rights to gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry within the confines of our geographic borders...

'I am aware that a large number of Oregonians, perhaps even a majority, have religious or moral objections to expanding the definition of civil marriage (and thereby expanding the benefits and rights that accompany marriage) to gay and lesbian families. It was these same objections that led to the passage of Measure 36 in 2004. Generations of Americans, my own included, were raised in a world in which homosexuality was believed to be a moral perversion, a mental disorder, or a mortal sin. I remember that one of the more popular playground games of my childhood was called 'smear the queer' and it was played with great zeal and without a moment's thought to today's political correctness. On a darker level, that same worldview led to an environment of cruelty, violence, and self-loathing. It was but 1986 when the United States Supreme Court justified, on the basis of a 'millennia of moral teaching,' the imprisonment of gay men and lesbian women who engaged in consensual sexual acts. Bowers, 478 U.S. at 197 (Burger, C.J., concurring), overruled by Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 578. Even today I am reminded of the legacy that we have bequeathed today's generation when my son looks dismissively at the sweater I bought him for Christmas and, with a roll of his eyes, says 'dad ... that is so gay.'

'It is not surprising then that many of us raised with such a world view would wish to protect our beliefs and our families by turning to the ballot box to enshrine in law those traditions we have come to value. But just as the Constitution protects the expression of these moral viewpoints, it equally protects the minority from being diminished by them.

'It is at times difficult to see past the shrillness of the debate. Accusations of religious bigotry and banners reading 'God Hates Fags' make for a messy democracy and, at times, test the First Amendment resolve of both sides. At the core of the Equal Protection Clause, however, there exists a foundational belief that certain rights should be shielded from the barking crowds; that certain rights are subject to ownership by all and not the stake hold of popular trend or shifting majorities.

'My decision will not be the final word on this subject, but on this issue of marriage I am struck more by our similarities than our differences. I believe that if we can look for a moment past gender and sexuality, we can see in these plaintiffs nothing more or less than our own families. Families who we would expect our Constitution to protect, if not exalt, in equal measure. With discernment we see not shadows lurking in closets or the stereotypes of what was once believed; rather, we see families committed to the common purpose of love, devotion, and service to the greater community.

'Where will this all lead? 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.'

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Marriage is on in Oregon
------------------------------
Pennsylvania Governor drops marriage appeal - Rush for licenses is on!
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Mary Yu sworn in as Associate Justice in Washington State Supreme Court
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U.S., U.N. mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
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HRC Foundation releases inaugural edition of Equality Rising
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First-Day-of-Issue Dedication Ceremony for the Harvey Milk Forever Stamp held at the White House on May 22
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Remarks by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at the White
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New CDC campaign inspires life-saving conversations about HIV
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HRC's statement on the launch of CDC's New Start Talking. Stop HIV. campaign
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