- illustration by Leo Zarosinski
The National Organization for Marriage's attempts to derail same-sex marriage in Oregon have been swatted aside for the third time, making more unlikely the specter it will have a say in the state's newfound marriage equality.
The US Supreme Court decided NOM—a thorn in the side of gay rights advocates nationwide—can't argue on behalf of Oregon's newly unconstitutional ban on same-sex marriage. That follows similar decisions at the district court and appeals court levels last month.
“We are delighted that the Court has rejected NOM’s attempt to derail marriage equality in Oregon,” ACLU of Oregon executive director David Fidanque said in a news release. “We are confident that marriage equality in Oregon will help pave the way for marriage equality nationwide.”
A May 19 decision by US District Judge Michael McShane ruled Oregon's definition of marriage as "one man and one woman" violates protections under the US Constitution. Couples have married at their leisure since.
In the run-up to McShane's decision, NOM had argued the court case was a farce, since even Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who typically defends Oregon law, agreed with plaintiffs the marriage ban was unconstitutional. So NOM tried everything it could to find a way into the court case, saying someone had to defend the law. The organization asked Justice Anthony Kennedy to stay McShane's decision while he sorted out whether they could be involved. Kennedy referred the matter to the court, and the court said 'no.'
“The application for stay presented to Justice Kennedy and by him referred to the Court is denied,” read the one-line order, according to a release from Oregon United for Marriage.
Gay rights advocates anticipate the Supreme Court will issue a ruling in the next year or two on one of the many decisions overturning bans around the country. That ruling could somehow wrinkle McShane's decision, advocates fear. Expect a push to eradicate the state's now-illegal marriage definition by 2016.
Also, the Oregon Family Council has sworn to file suit in order to allow business owners to opt out of gay marriages.
For now, though: Good news! Read the ACLU of Oregon's release after the jump.
In a victory for marriage equality, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to halt new marriages between same-sex couples in Oregon. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) sought a stay after the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied a similar request two weeks ago. Both the ACLU and the state of Oregon filed briefs opposing NOM’s request.
“With marriages continuing in Oregon, we have 44 percent of the country living in a freedom-to-marry state, and it’s just a reality that same-sex couples are part of marriage in America today,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “Across the country, more and more Americans are embracing the truth that their friends, family, and neighbors in same-sex couples deserve the protection and dignity that only come with marriage.”
U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane declared on May 19 that Oregon’s ban on marriages between same-sex couples violates the equal protection clause of the federal constitution and ordered the state to begin issuing marriage licenses immediately.
A few days earlier, Judge McShane denied NOM’s 11th-hour request to intervene in the case saying the request was filed too late and that neither NOM nor its members had met the legal standard necessary to justify intervention in the case.
“We are delighted that the Court has rejected NOM’s attempt to derail marriage equality in Oregon,” said ACLU of Oregon executive director David Fidanque. “We are confident that marriage equality in Oregon will help pave the way for marriage equality nationwide.”
On May 19, Oregon became the 18th state (plus the District of Columbia) to provide the freedom to marry to committed, loving same-sex couples and Pennsylvania became the 19th state on May 20 through another ACLU lawsuit.
Judge McShane’s decision was issued in response to two separate lawsuits filed by the ACLU of Oregon and private attorneys on behalf of four same sex couples in long term relationships and Basic Rights Education Fund to overturn Oregon’s ban on marriage for lesbian and gay couples.