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Marriage equality Oregon: Judge strikes down state marriage ban

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Same-sex couples are celebrating in the state of Oregon on Monday. In an anticipated ruling, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane stuck down the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, saying it is unconstitutional. With the ruling, Oregon becomes the latest state to overturn a constitutional ban on marriage.

The ruling is also another victory in the fight for marriage equality across the nation. Just within the last couple weeks, the states of Arkansas and Idaho have witnessed and celebrated similar decisions. Same-sex couples in Oregon have been anxiously awaiting McShane's decision since Friday, when he said he would have a decision by Monday at noon.

McShane came through with his promise and ruled in favor of four gay and lesbian couples who filed the lawsuit challenge Oregon's marriage laws as unconstitutional and discriminatory against same-sex couples, excluding them from a fundamental right. Now those couples and all same-sex couples in Oregon will be free to obtain marriage licenses as state official have said they would be prepared to carryout out same-sex marriages immediately once the ruling came in.

McShane wrote in his decision, "Because Oregon's marriage laws discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without a rational relationship to any legitimate government interest, the laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

This decision was expected as McShane denied a request by the National Organization for Marriage to defend the law on behalf of its Oregon members since Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum refused to defend the ban, stating that there were no legal arguments that could support it as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that struck down key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996.

In anticipation McShane's ruling, NOM filed a emergency stay of the decision, but an appeals court refused the group's request which means gay marriages will proceed in the state with no one to appeal the decision unlike other states like Idaho, Utah, Michigan, Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas. Couples can now wed in all states on the west coast as gay marriage is now legal in Washington, Oregon and California.

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