The U.S. Supreme Court declined to stop same-sex marriages in Oregon this week while a federal appeals court decides whether a group opposed to gay marriage can intervene in the case. The Court declined to comment on its decision.
The Supreme Court’s order is the result of an emergency appeal by the National Organization for Marriage, which sought to overturn a federal district court judge's May 19 decision declaring the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Hundreds of gay couples in the state have obtained marriage licenses since the decision.
“With marriages continuing in Oregon, we have 44 percent of the country living in a freedom-to-marry state,” said James Esseks, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented some of the plaintiffs in the case.
In similar appeals cases, judges temporarily block lower-court rulings, which puts same-sex unions on hold while the appeals are pending.
“We knew going in that we had a lot of procedural baggage with our case,” John Eastman, National Organization for Marriage's chairman and lawyer, said. “We thought it was important to make the effort, but we will continue to press ahead with our appeal, which remains alive, on our right to intervene in this case.”
Lawyers for the attorney general’s office are battling the National Organization for Marriage’s appeal in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Voters in Oregon added the ban on same-sex marriage to Oregon’s Constitution in 2004 after Multnomah County issued marriage licenses to about 3,000 gay couples. After the institution of the ban, the Oregon Supreme Court invalidated the marriages.