Oregon Judge Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban

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Julia Fraser, left, and Jessica Rohrbacher get married by Celebrant Holly Pruett, right, at the Melody Ballroom in Portland, Ore., on Monday, May. 19, 2014. Federal Judge Michael McShane released an opinion on Oregon’s Marriage Equality lawsuit that grants gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry in Oregon.
Image: Steve Dykes/Associated Press

Same-sex couples are now legally allowed to get married in Oregon.

An Oregon judge ruled on Monday that the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, and a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied an immediate request to stay the decision by the National Organization for Marriage, meaning couples are free to get married almost immediately. Democratic Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she doesn’t plan to defend the ban, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane said the ban discriminates against same-sex couples and is in no way supported by the Constitution. He joined judges in Arkansas, Idaho, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia who have also recently declared bans on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional, though some of those decisions have been appealed.

Oregon first enacted a law preventing same-sex weddings in 2004, according to the Associated Press, and 57% of voters agreed with the decision. That same year, only 31% of the nation favored allowing same-sex marriages. In the 10 years since, that number has jumped to 54%.

Four same-sex couples challenged the Oregon law, saying the ban blocked them from having the same constitutional right to marriage that heterosexual couples have. If McShane had not struck down the ban on Monday, gay marriage advocacy groups said they had collected enough votes on a petition to force a vote on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage this coming November.