- illustration by Leo Zarosinski
A little more than a week after Oregon's marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional, same-sex marriage opponents have launched another long-shot effort to halt ceremonies.
The National Organization for Marriage is asking US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to stay the ruling, issued Monday, May 19, by US District Judge Michael McShane. A similar request was denied by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. According to the group's announcement, Justice Kennedy, who is assigned to the Ninth Circuit, could act on his own or ask the full Supreme Court to decide the matter. Or he could do nothing.
From the organization's announcement:
“We are asking Justice Kennedy and the U.S. Supreme Court to take the step of staying the decision of Judge McShane so that NOM can pursue its request to intervene in the case in order to mount a defense of the people’s vote for marriage,” said John Eastman, NOM’s chairman and Director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence at The Claremont Institute. “This case is an ugly spectacle of the state refusing to defend the sovereign act of its voters to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman and instead working jointly with the plaintiffs to redefine marriage.”
Oregon joins numerous other states in recent weeks where federal judges have overturned state laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and instead imposed same-sex marriage. In each of these cases, the court decision has been stayed by the trial judge or an appellate court. The U.S. Supreme Court itself ruled unanimously to stay a decision in Utah that invalidated their state marriage amendment.
“The Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that it does not want a profound social change such as redefining marriage to be made by trial judges without the Supreme Court itself deciding the issue,” Eastman said. “In Oregon, not only do we have a single trial court judge imposing his own opinion and invalidating the votes of the overwhelming majority of Oregon voters, but the case involves the state Attorney General refusing to even mount a defense of the people’s decision. This should be very troubling to Justice Kennedy.”