Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced today that she will not defend the state against the marriage equality lawsuit filed in federal court in October. Rosenblum said that she will continue to enforce the gay marriage ban until the court rules, but adds that the ban “cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review.” Here’s a reminder about the suit, which is scheduled to have oral arguments on April 23th:
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Eugene by Portland attorneys Lake Perriguey and Lea Ann Easton on behalf of two gay couples, seeks to have 2004’s Measure 36 ruled unconstitutional. It names Gov. John Kitzhaber and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, as well as a few other officials, as defendants. It argues that one couple—Deanna Geiger and Janine Nelson—should be able to legally marry. The other plaintiffs, Robert Deuhmig and William Griesar, were legally married in Vancouver, B.C., and wish to have their rights recognized in Oregon. The suit is separate from the anticipated $12 million campaign to overturn Measure 36 being orchestrated by Oregon United for Marriage. Volunteers are collecting signatures to put an initiative on the ballot next year.
Rosenblum is a Democrat and Oregon’s first female Attorney General. I think I hear some sadz coming ’round the bend!
UPDATE: Freedom To Marry reacts.
“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.”
UPDATE II: Oregon United reacts. Pay attention to the second paragraph.
“This is tremendous news. The Attorney General has taken a close look at the facts, and came to the same conclusion that courts around the country and freedom-minded Oregonians have: there is no reasonable or legal justification to exclude committed gay and lesbian couples from marriage,” campaign manager Mike Marshall says. “The dramatic increase in Oregonians’ support for the freedom to marry—from 42 percent support in May 2010 to 55 percent support today—mirrors the movement we’re seeing nationally. More and more people understand that no one should be denied the freedom to marry the person they love.”
Oregon United for Marriage also announced today it has gathered enough signatures to to be assured a place on the November 2014 ballot. 116,284 are required but the campaign has gathered more than 160,000 signatures—well over the requirement and more than enough to qualify for the November ballot. Oregon United will hold onto the signatures, pending the outcome of the federal lawsuit.