Barely a month has passed since Multnomah County offered its groundbreaking decision to offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples--and already the novelty seems to be wearing thin.

Over the past few weeks, much of the progress on the issue has been rolled back. Massachusetts, which had been viewed as a frontrunner for constitutional rights, recently changed its tune. The California Supreme Court has told San Francisco to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This leaves Multnomah County as the primary legal battleground.

Over the past week, county commissioners here responded to complaints that they had short-circuited public debate. Commissioner Lonnie Roberts, who had opposed the policy change, requested public hearings and, for three days, the commissioners received an earful. Much of that testimony focused on religious convictions. But the testimony did not sway the 4-1 vote favoring issuing marriage licenses to everyone.

In a press release, Commissioner Lisa Naito urged constituents to remember that government and churches serve different roles. "Multnomah County issues civil, not religious, marriage licenses," she explained.

The next step is the outcome of a lawsuit. That suit has already been filed and is on the fast track. A decision will be rendered mid-April. Even so, no matter the outcome, it is as good as guaranteed that the decision will be appealed.