4/24/2014 12:16:00 PM Oregon Catholic Conference welcomes motion defending state marriage law
Catholic News Service photo
Kevin and Mary Ford, a Catholic married couple, with their children outside their Kansas home.
The Oregon Catholic Conference is welcoming a move from the National Organization for Marriage to defend the state’s law affirming marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The Washington D.C.-based non-profit says it will step in because state officials have decided not to back the law passed by 57 percent of Oregon voters in 2004.
“Oregon’s constitutional marriage amendment was carefully considered and thoroughly debated prior to its overwhelming passage in 2004,” says a statement from the conference, public policy arm of the Archdiocese of Portland and the Diocese of Baker. “It represents the express will of the people of Oregon and is the duly enacted law of the state.”
The conference says Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum violated her oath of office and “unilaterally disregarded” a decision of the people.
“Oregonians recognize the uniqueness of marriage between one man and one woman,” the conference says. “Marriage provides every child with a mother and father and seeks to foster the optimal, loving and supportive environment for raising children. Loving and stable marriage between a man and a woman provides the best foundation for a strong, healthy, and just society. It is worthy of a voice in the courtroom.”
The statement comes as state officials and lawyers for four gay and lesbian couples on Wednesday urged a federal judge in Eugene to strike down the law based on the U.S. Constitution's equal-protection and due-process clauses. The attorneys said that the Oregon law serves no government interest and excludes gays and lesbians from what they call a fundamental right.
Judge Michael McShane gave no indication of his leaning and said he would offer no ruling until he decided whether to allow the National Organization for Marriage to mount a defense.
McShane has been asked to rule on whether Oregon’s marriage law is constitutional and whether same-sex couples can wed in the state. He also will decide if Oregon will recognize as marriage the unions of same sex couples from other states.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, federal judges have nixed voter-approved marriage definitions in five states: Utah, Oklahoma, Michigan, Texas and Virginia. In three other states—Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee—federal judges have ordered the recognition of same-sex marriages that occurred out-of-state. Attorneys general in the states have refused to defend their state marriage laws.