This Week in the Mercury


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gay Marriage Foes Probably Won't Save Oregon's Ban, But They've Delayed its Death

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 4:03 PM

Oregon's gay marriage ban will be friendless in court tomorrow, after all.

US District Court Judge Michael McShane has denied a last-minute bid by marriage equality foes to delay oral arguments scheduled for tomorrow afternoon—or at least allow attorneys for the National Organization for Marriage to have a say. And, since Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has said she won't defend the ban, it'll be a one-sided affair.

That doesn't necessarily mean NOM will be shut out of the case. McShane will hear arguments on May 14 over whether he should give the group standing to argue for the ban. NOM says its ranks include "a county clerk, a wedding services provider, and an Oregon voter who cast a vote in the November 2004 election in support of Measure 36," and that those members have a "particularized interest" in the outcome of the case.

Even if NOM does earn standing, the marriage ban faces an unlikely battle for survival. Time and again, federal judges this year have obliterated state marriage bans, relying on a recent Supreme Court ruling to do so.

But by petitioning for standing, NOM also likely has succeeded in delaying McShane's decision. If a ruling isn't reached by July, Oregon United for Marriage—the group fighting the law—could decide to put a measure rescinding the ban on the ballot. The campaign says it's got the signatures to do so.

Campaign director Mike Marshall released this statement last night:

"This Hail Mary pass has a slim chance of success, so why are they doing this? I'm guessing it's a ploy in their effort to create an exception to Oregon's anti-discrimination laws. They want us to spend our supporters' money on the continued fight to win marriage, when we could be using those resources to stop their discrimination initiative that would allow businesses to turn people away because of who they are and whom they love."

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