Gay marriage made legal in Oregon today as judge strikes down voter-approved ban

(AP)

A federal judge legalized gay marriage in Oregon today, May 19, 2014.

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane ruled that the state's voter-approved ban against gay marriage is unconstitutional, and ordered officials not to enforce it.

State attorneys previously stated that they would no longer defend the amendment upholding biblical marriage in court, and that same-sex ceremonies would begin almost immediately.

The Associated Press reported that gay couples were lined up outside of the Portland clerk of courts office in anticipation of the verdict.

Litigation regarding same-sex marriage in the state has lasted for a decade, and has included public hearings, an Oregon Supreme Court review, and a ballot initiative. In 2004, voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage in biblical terms—the union of a man and a woman.

After years of appeals and legal wranglings, Oregon is the latest state to have their gay marriage bans struck down in court. Arkansas, Idaho, Michigan, Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas, and Utah have recently been on the losing end of such decisions.

Gay marriage advocacy organizations said that they had enough signatures to get a same-sex marriage vote on the ballot this November, if today's decision was not in their favor.

Unlike Oregon, neighboring Idaho has vowed to fight for biblical marriage all the way to the Supreme Court. The state's governor and attorney general plan to file appeals against a federal judge's decision to reverse their 2006 gay marriage ban. A request for stay of the decision was denied last week.

Gay marriage is legal in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, and last year, the federal government allowed same-sex partners to receive federal benefits.

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