Minutes ago, a United States District Court in Eugene, Oregon, where I live, issued a ruling striking down the amendment to Oregon’s state constitution, passed in 2004, defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. Judge Michael J. McShane correctly found that this horrible law was in direct violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and thus was unconstitutional and void.
I have been waiting for this ruling for 10 years. I hoped last June that the U.S. Supreme Court would go so far as to declare all purported bans against marriage equality in the United States were unconstitutional–because clearly they are–but, while their ruling striking down the federal DOMA and Proposition 8 in California was clearly a major step toward full marriage equality, it didn’t quite go that extra mile. In the year since that ruling, however, the tide has turned rapidly in favor of equality, with a majority of Americans now supporting it. Even conservative states like Utah are now moving toward full equality. Who would have thought that even a year ago?
The Oregon ban on marriage equality was actually put on the ballot (constitutional amendments are subject to plebiscites in Oregon) pretty hastily in 2004, not so much as a statement against gay marriage, but as a means to increase turnout of conservative voters to re-elect President George W. Bush. This was the case in state after state, where Republican Party operatives secured gay marriage initiatives for short-term political benefits–but at the cost of writing hatred into various state constitutions. Today Judge McShane struck it out. Furthermore, because earlier today the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the motion of an anti-equality lobby group (National Organization for Marriage) to stay the effect of the ruling pending appeal of an earlier decision that prohibited them from intervening, this means that same sex marriages are going ahead in Oregon, in practice…right now.
This is a happy day for my home state, for my family, my husband, for me personally. It’s a happy day for the United States of America and for freedom and equality in general. There’s always another mile to go in the quest for full equality–but it’s nice to savor a victory like this too.