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Oregon’s attorney general will not defend state marriage equality ban

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Oregon State SealOregon’s Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum, announced yesterday in a legal filing that she will not defend the state’s ban on marriage equality:

“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.  In the meantime, as the State Defendants are 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.

As Bloomberg Businessweek pointed out, Rosenblum joins five other Democratic attorneys general–California’s Kamala Harris, Virginia’s Mark Herring, Illinois’s Lisa Madigan, Pennsylvania’s Kathleen Kane and Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto–who have also chosen not to defend their state’s equal marriage bans from constitutional challenges.

Last year, Rosenblum signed onto briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing against the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California’s marriage equality ban, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.  In a statement regarding her filing in the Oregon case, Rosenblum said 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.”

David Austin, a spokesman for Multnomah County, told Bloomberg in an interview that “the county has not and will not argue that same-sex couples can be denied marriage licenses under the federal Constitution.”  Multnomah’s assessor is a defendant in the Oregon lawsuits.

You can read the full brief here.


  • 1. davep  |  February 21, 2014 at 10:25 am

    …. And as usual, Brian Brown of NOM is issuing statements full of blatant lies. He is accusing the Oregon AG of 'violating her oath' and 'not enforcing the law'. The AG in Oregon IS enforcing the law, just as she should, by declining to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples until the court makes its ruling. She has decided not to DEFEND the law in court, because it's already clear it can't survive tests for constitutional compliance, and that is ALSO exactly what an AG should do. More lies from NOM.

  • 2. Michael  |  February 22, 2014 at 1:32 am

    This from a greedy anti-gay activist who signed the Manhattan Declaration which is the epitome of lawlessness.

  • 3. Mike in Baltimore  |  February 22, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    The article is about the Oregon AG, not the head of NOM or any others.

  • 4. thelawworks  |  February 22, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    I think this the first state where the government is not going to defend the constitutionality and there are no anti-equality third party defenders. Does anyone know if this scenario has been presented elsewhere or is present in any of the other state litigation?

    While this is great news from Oregon, the Oregon AG has supported marriage equality in amicus briefs before the 9th Circuit and in before the US Supreme Court in the Hollingsworth case. So this is not a surprise to anyone who is paying attention to Oregon politics. See… and Brie…..

  • 5. Equality On TrialOregon o&hellip  |  March 18, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    […] month, EqualityOnTrial reported that Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, had announced in a legal filing that the state […]

  • 6. conranhoxha  |  May 15, 2014 at 5:13 am

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  • 7. Equality On TrialDecision&hellip  |  May 19, 2014 at 8:52 am

    […] party to the case is defending Oregon’s ban. State officials declined to defend the provisions in federal court, and they later filed a brief arguing that it violates the […]

  • 8. Equality On TrialThe Nati&hellip  |  August 7, 2014 at 1:05 am

    […] officials have declined to defend the ban, and filed a brief attacking it in this […]

  • 9. Equality On TrialNCLR ask&hellip  |  August 7, 2014 at 2:03 am

    […] that decision came down, the attorneys general in Nevada and Oregon have declined to defend their same-sex marriage bans. Under heightened scrutiny, the burden shifts […]

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