Scroll To Top
World

Oregon court
nullifies marriage licenses issued to gay couples

Oregon court
nullifies marriage licenses issued to gay couples

Rings2

The Oregon supreme court on Thursday nullified nearly 3,000 marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples by Multnomah County a year ago, saying a single county couldn't take such action on its own. The court said that while the county can question the constitutionality of laws governing marriage, such laws are a matter of statewide concern, so the county had no authority to issue licenses to gay and lesbian couples. The court noted that last November, Oregonians approved a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The court also said that long before that vote, state law had set the same limitations on marriage since Oregon became a state. "Today, marriage in Oregon--an institution once limited to opposite-sex couples only by statute--now is so limited by the state constitution as well," the court ruling said. The court left the door open for state legislators to craft an alternative to same-sex marriages, such as civil unions. "We conclude that Oregon law currently places the regulation of marriage exclusively within the province of the state's legislative power," the court said. Members of the legislature have been awaiting the ruling to give them guidance on how to proceed on the issue. A day earlier, Gov. Ted Kulongoski said he will push for a law allowing gay couples to form civil unions that would give them many of the rights available to married couples. Multnomah County began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples last April, arguing that not doing so violated the state constitution. A judge ordered the practice ceased about six weeks later, but not before nearly 3,000 same-sex couples had wed. Vermont is the first and still the only state to offer civil unions to gays, passing a law in 2000. Massachusetts has allowed same-sex marriage since last May. Both those changes came about after court rulings. Kulongoski's backing of a civil unions law expands on his announcement in January that he would support legislation extending antidiscrimination protections to gays. "As I stated in January, we face a great moral challenge to make sure opportunity is an open door through which every citizen can pass--not a revolving door which turns for some and doesn't budge for others," he said. The state's leading gay rights group, Basic Rights Oregon, praised the governor's decision to move ahead on civil unions legislation. (AP)

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories