Marriage equality will continue to be the law of the land in Oregon, as the U.S. Supreme Court today refused to issue a stay on a federal judge's May decision that struck down the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
The antigay National Organization for Marriage had asked the nation's highest court to place a hold on that ruling, after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied that same request two weeks ago. Writing for the court, Justice Anthony Kennedy denied NOM's request in a one-sentence order without further explanation, reports SCOTUSblog.
NOM submitted its request late last month to Justice Kennedy, who oversees legal questions regarding the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, according to Buzzfeed. Kennedy also happens to be the justice who wrote the opinion in the 2013 Windsor case, which overturned the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal relationship recognition to same-sex couples, and paved the way for the current avalanche of pro-marriage equality ruling since. He also wrote the opinion striking down sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003.
Prior to seeking a stay on Oregon's marriage equality decision, NOM sought to formally step in and defend the state's constitutional ban on marriage equality after state officials refused to do so. The district judge who ultimately struck down the state's marriage ban also denied NOM's request, noting that the Washington, D.C.-based group had no legal standing to intervene in an Oregon case — especially because NOM couldn't find any individuals willing to attach their name to the law's defense.
Although today's order from the court did not provide an explanation for its decision, Lyle Dennison at SCOTUSblog reports that the concise refusal indicates that the Supreme Court is unwilling to stop statewide marriage equality, except when the request to do so is filed by state officials. The Supreme Court did eventually issue a stay on a ruling that briefly legalized same-sex marriage in Utah, but that request was filed by the state's Republican governor and attorney general.
"We are delighted that the Court has rejected NOM’s attempt to derail marriage equality in Oregon,"said David Fidanque, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, in a statement Wednesday. "We are confident that marriage equality in Oregon will help pave the way for marriage equality nationwide." The ACLU was among the organizations that filed briefs with the Supreme Court opposing NOM's request for a stay.
"With marriages continuing in Oregon, we have 44 percent of the country living in a freedom-to-marry state: same-sex couples are now part of marriage in America today," said James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. "Across the country, more and more Americans are embracing the truth that their friends, family, and neighbors in same-sex couples deserve the protection and dignity that only come with marriage."