US: Weddings begin in Oregon after judge strikes down same-sex marriage ban

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Same-sex weddings will begin immediately in Oregon, after a judge struck down the state’s marriage ban.

Judge Michael McShane was forced to play devil’s advocate and suggest arguments in defence of the ban last month, after Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum declined to defend it, instead joining the prosecution in urging for it to be struck down.

The anti-gay group National Organisation for Marriage filed a last-ditch effort to defend the state’s marriage ban days before the trial began, but their request was thrown out, as they could not find anyone with standing to back their intervention.

Today, McShane struck down the ban, a 2004 constitutional amendment approved by 57% of voters to 43%, which defined marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman.

He declined to issue a stay on the ruling, meaning couples can immediately begin to marry.

Earlier today, an appeals court rejected NOM’s attempt for an emergency stay on the decision while they further press their case.

Officials in Oregon’s largest county, Multnomah, had said they will begin issuing marriage licenses immediately after the ruling, with couples queuing outside courthouses since this morning.

The judge wrote in his decision: “Because Oregon’s marriage laws discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without a rational relationship to any legitimate government interest, the laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

Update: Deanna Geiger and Janine Nelson have become the first same-sex couple to marry in Oregon, after 31 years together.