• Leo Zarosinski

With a federal judge in Eugene set to rule at noon on Oregon's same-sex marriage ban, couples and allies around the state are preparing to celebrate/marry.

If District Court Judge Michael McShane were to uphold the ban, he'd be the first federal jurist to okay a state same-sex marriage prohibition since the US Supreme Court upended the Defense of Marriage Act last year. Add to that the fact that even Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum says Oregon's law is unconstitutional, and that McShane last week denied a bid by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to argue for the ban, and it seems likely the state will have marriage equality by this afternoon.

But now NOM's lobbing a last, desperate wrench toward the gears. The group just announced it's asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to halt proceedings in the case, so that it can argue, again, for standing to defend the ban.

"The emergency filing today seeks a halt to the proceedings in Eugene so that the Ninth Circuit can determine whether NOM’s motion to intervene should be granted," reads NOM's release. "Additionally, if Judge Michael McShane were to invalidate the marriage amendment as the Attorney General and the plaintiffs have requested, NOM’s motion also includes a requested stay of such a decision."

As we noted in this week's piece on the marriage equality fight, there's always something new rising up to block advocates' path. It's less than three hours before same-sex couple might be finally allowed to marry in Oregon and, it seems, there's something else to wonder about. But advocates aren't terribly worried.

"We've known all along that they were going to try every single possible creative move they could up come up with," says Thomas Wheatley, director for organizing for Freedom to Marry, a national group promoting marriage equality. "It's a very unusual move given that NOM is not even a party to the case. That makes this a big stretch."

Federal appeals courts aren't typically known for fast action, and, according to Wheatley, the Ninth Circuit in particular has a reputation for deliberation. So probably don't expect the court to step in and order McShane not to issue his decision at noon. Whether the court ultimately agrees with NOM's request to stay the decision pending further argument is another matter.

"They're pulling out the stops to do everything they can to prevent marriages from happening," Wheatley says. "Ultimately, we're very optimistic that Oregon couple are going to be able to marry."