On Thursday, Oregon became the latest state to give up on defending its own same-sex marriage ban, after the state's Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum filed a court briefing arguing that the ban “cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review.” Rosenblum added that her state will continue to enforce the ban until it's overturned in the courts.
Like a handful of other states, Oregon voters passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages there in the 2004 elections. That law was being challenged by lawsuits from four Oregon couples. U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane was set to hear arguments for two of those cases in late April, but the Statesman-Journal notes that today's filing means the suit will go to summary judgement instead. The lawsuits, like many post-Windsor challenges to state gay marriage bans, claim that the bans violate the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution.
Oregon's decision seems to be part of a prevailing trend these days. After the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act last June, it's become harder and harder for states to defend their laws banning equal marriage. State AGs in Virginia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania have also declined to defend still-standing bans on same-sex marriage in their states. And a recent spate of rulings in favor of same-sex marriage rights means that federal appeals courts will soon hear cases from Oklahoma and Utah after federal judges struck down same-sex marriage bans there. Even in Kentucky, a federal judge recently ruled against a provision barring the state from recognizing legal, same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Meanwhile, a series of bills in state legislatures designed to allow business owners to discriminate against same-sex couples have mostly failed to advance. The Arizona Senate did pass a bill on Wednesday that would allow businesses to refuse services to LGBT people or anyone else who goes against their religious beliefs. The bill now goes to the state's House, but it's not clear whether it would become law if it makes it to Gov. Jan Brewer's desk. The governor vetoed a similar bill last year.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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