WASHINGTON The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to halt new marriages between same-sex couples in Oregon. The National Organization for Marriage ( NOM ), sought a stay of a lower court's decision allowing marriages to take place, and after the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied a similar request two weeks ago. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and the state of Oregon filed briefs opposing NOM's request.
"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 ACLU 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."
U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane declared on May 19 that Oregon's ban on marriages between same-sex couples violates the equal protection clause of the federal constitution and ordered the state to begin issuing marriage licenses immediately.
A few days earlier, Judge McShane denied NOM's 11th-hour request to intervene in the case saying the request was filed too late and that neither NOM nor its members had met the legal standard necessary to justify intervention in the case.
"We are delighted that the Court has rejected NOM's attempt to derail marriage equality in Oregon," said ACLU of Oregon executive director David Fidanque. "We are confident that marriage equality in Oregon will help pave the way for marriage equality nationwide."
On May 19, Oregon became the 18th state ( plus the District of Columbia ) to provide the freedom to marry to committed, loving same-sex couples and Pennsylvania became the 19th state on May 20 through another ACLU lawsuit.
Judge McShane's decision was issued in response to two separate lawsuits filed by the ACLU of Oregon and private attorneys on behalf of four same sex couples in long term relationships and the Basic Rights Education Fund to overturn Oregon's ban on marriage for lesbian and gay couples.
More information on this case can be found at: www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/rummell-and-west-v-kitzhaber .