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Oregon attorney general will not defend state's gay marriage ban in court

Ellen Rosenblum does not believe the law can withstand federal constitutional challenge in lawsuit brought by four same-sex couples
Oregon Attorney General Ellen_Rosenblum
Photo courtesy of State of Oregon

Oregon's attorney general said in legal papers filed Thursday (20 February) that she does not believe the state's ban on gay marriage can withstand a federal constitutional challenge.

This means Ellen Rosenblum joins attorneys general in at least five other US states - all Democrats - who are refusing to defend state gay marriage bans in court.

The state is facing two lawsuits involving three same-sex couples who are seeking to have the ban overturned on the basis that it is unconstitutional.

'State Defendants will not defend the Oregon ban on same-sex marriage in this litigation,' Rosenblum wrote. '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.'

But in the meantime, she points out that the state is '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,' she wrote.

As the legal case works its way through the courts, efforts continue to gather enough signatures for a measure to qualify for the November ballot asking voters to make gay marriage legal in the state.

The state already announced last fall that it will recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in any of the US states where they are legal.

Couples will not suffer a change in marital status and benefits should they move to the state of Oregon.

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