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Oregon ruling marks 13th consecutive gay marriage win

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.

Julie Engbloom, left, and Laurie Brown are married by Judge Beth A. Allen at the Melody Ballroom in Portland, Ore., on Monday after a federal judge threw out the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Associated Press

Julie Engbloom, left, and Laurie Brown are married by Judge Beth A. Allen at the Melody Ballroom in Portland, Ore., on Monday after a federal judge threw out the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Victory in Utah for same-sex couples

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge ordered Utah officials Monday to recognize more than 1,000 same-sex marriages that took place in the state before the U.S. Supreme Court issued an emergency stay. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in January on behalf of four couples who said the state's decision to freeze benefits for same-sex couples violated their rights. The couples cited concerns such as having a partner legally recognized as a child's second parent. The gay and lesbian couples got married in Utah after a federal judge overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban Dec. 20. Those weddings came to a halt Jan. 6 when the Supreme Court granted the stay.

Associated Press

Oregon ruling marks 13th consecutive gay marriage win 05/19/14 [Last modified: Monday, May 19, 2014 10:36pm]

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