By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com February 20 2014 6:39 PM ET
Oregon’s attorney general will not defend the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, currently being challenged in court, she announced today.
In a brief filed in U.S. District Court today, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum wrote, “State Defendants will not defend the Oregon ban on same-sex marriage in this litigation. Rather, they will take the position in their summary judgment briefing that the ban cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review. In the meantime, as the State Defendants are legally obligated to enforce the Oregon Constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage, they will continue to do so unless and until this Court grants the relief sought by the plaintiffs.”
Rosenblum joins attorneys general in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Nevada in refusing to defend such laws.
Four same-sex couples have sued for the right to marry in Oregon, two represented by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Oregon affiliate and two by private attorneys. The state’s voters approved the ban in 2004.
“While court cases can take unexpected turns, today’s announcement by Attorney General Rosenblum is extremely important for everyone who supports the civil rights and civil liberties of all Oregonians,” David Fidanque, executive director of the ACLU of Oregon, said in a press release today.
“I am more confident than ever that same-sex couples will have the freedom to marry before the year is out,” added Jeana Frazzini, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon, the state’s LGBT rights group.
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the case in Eugene April 23. Attorneys in the case say he could issue a ruling in the late spring or early summer, The Oregonian newspaper notes.
Meanwhile, supporters of marriage equality are also attempting to repeal the ban via popular vote. They are nearly finished gathering signatures in their effort to place a repeal measure on the ballot, according to The Oregonian.