Oregon’s Attorney General won’t defend state’s ban on marriage equality

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Oregon’s Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum, said on February 20 that she refuses to defend the state’s ban on marriage equality in court on the grounds that it “cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review.”

Rosenblum’s decision was filed with the U.S. District Court in Eugene in a brief regarding a lawsuit challenging the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, passed by voters in 2004; her decision puts the lawsuit in the unusual position of having both sides of a case in agreement that the law in question is unconstitutional.

In 2013, Rosenblum signed onto the US Supreme Court briefs that argued in favor of allowing LGBT couples to marry on the grounds that anything less was discriminatory and unconstitutional.

She isn’t the first state attorney general to refuse to defend a marriage equality ban; AGs in Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois and Nevada have also declined in similar cases. Additionally, the AG in New Mexico outright challenged the legal interpretations that declared same-sex unions unlawful.

Oral arguments in the Oregon case are scheduled for April 23, 2014; the judge could issue a ruling before the beginning of summer.

Outside the courts, the LGBT activist group Oregon United For Marriage is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative in November 2014, intended to excise the state’s constitutional ban and replace it with language that grants everyone the freedom to marry without regard to the gender of the participants.

According to LGBTQ Nation, the organization said in December 2013 that it had exceeded the minimum number of 116,284 required signatures to qualify for the next election’s ballot, but was continuing to collect more; they have until July 3, 2014 to turn in the petition.

429Magazine

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