Oregon Attorney General will not defend anti-marriage laws in court
February 20, 2014
Today, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced that the state of Oregon will not defend laws in Oregon that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying in the state. The Attorney General filed a brief in the case, Geiger v. Kitzhaber, this afternoon, where they 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."
Attorney General Rosenblum issued further comments today. She said:
The law in this area is developing and it is now clear that there is no rational basis for Oregon to refuse to honor the commitments made by same-sex couples in the same way it honors the commitments of opposite-sex couples. Marriage is the way that loving couples become family to each other and to their extended families, and there is no good reason to exclude same-sex couples from marriage in Oregon, or from having their marriages recognized here.
Because we cannot identify a valid reason for the state to prevent the couples who have filed these lawsuits from marrying in Oregon, we find ourselves unable to stand before federal Judge McShane to defend the state’s prohibition against marriages between two men or two women.
The decision means that AG Rosenblum will side with the plaintiffs in two lawsuits currently making their way through federal court in Oregon. Oral arguments in the cases, which have been consolidated, are scheduled for April 23, 2014.
AG Rosenblum's announcement this morning is similar to stances taken in the past two years from the attorneys general in Pennsylvania, Illinois, California, Nevada, and Virginia. Each of these attorneys general refused to defend the anti-marriage laws, declaring them unconstitutional and indefensible.
Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson applauded the AG's decision. He said:
Attorney General Rosenblum is right in refusing to waste taxpayers’ dollars by defending the indefensible anti-marriage law in Oregon. Rosenblum is joined by other attorneys general from Virginia, Pennsylvania and Nevada; and even Republican Governor Brian Sandoval in Nevada, who all came to the same conclusion that the state cannot in good conscience defend a law denying committed same-sex couples the freedom to marry. The rapid momentum for the freedom to marry in states across the country underscores the understanding that the Constitution’s guarantee of the freedom to marry and equal protection under the law apply to gay and non-gay people alike. America – and Oregon – are ready for the freedom to marry.
Freedom to Marry celebrates Attorney General Rosenblum's refusal to defend marriage discrimination in Oregon. With her support and the continued support of so many public officials who understand the importance of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, we can continue to advance marriage for all.
Read more about Geiger v. Kitzhaber, and keep up on all of the marriage litigation - 47 cases in 25 states - HERE.