PORTLAND, Ore. — A federal judge threw out Oregon's same-sex marriage ban Monday, marking the 13th consecutive legal victory for gay marriage advocates since last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned part of a federal ban.
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane in Eugene ruled that the voter-approved ban unconstitutionally discriminates against same-sex couples, and he ordered the state to stop enforcing it.
"I believe that if we can look for a moment past gender and sexuality, we can see in these plaintiffs nothing more or less than our own families," he wrote. "Families who we would expect our constitution to protect, if not exalt, in equal measure."
State officials earlier refused to defend Oregon's constitutional ban and said they would be prepared to carry out same-sex marriages almost immediately if McShane struck it down.
Jubilant couples rushed to tie the knot after Monday's ruling, including some who stood in line at the Portland county building for hours to get a marriage license.
"It's the final step to be truly a family," said Patty Reagan, who took the day off to wed partner Kelly. "Everyone else takes for granted that they have this right."
Laurie Brown and Julie Engbloom, who got engaged on their 10th anniversary in April, also were in line in anticipation of the ruling.
"We always knew we wanted to spend our whole life together," Brown said. "This opportunity has come. It feels right. Everything has fallen into place."
The National Organization for Marriage sought to intervene in the cases brought by four gay and lesbian couples and defend the ban on behalf of its Oregon members. But McShane rejected its request.
The group then appealed, but on Monday a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied its bid for an emergency stay.
McShane joins judges in seven other states who have struck down same-sex marriage bans, though appeals are under way.
Many predicted last year's Supreme Court ruling would create a pathway for states to act, as polls showed a majority of Americans now support gay marriage.