State Marriage Brief: Oregon Marriage Ban Has No Rational Basis

March 19, 2014 – In its response to the ACLU’s constitutional challenge of Oregon’s ban on marriage by same-sex couples, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum declared that the marriage ban “serves no rational basis and harms Oregon citizens.”

“It means a lot to our family that the State’s Attorney General and Governor have recognized the direct harm the marriage ban creates for families like ours,” said Paul Rummell, one of the ACLU clients in the case. “Denying us the right to be married, because of who we are and who we love, doesn’t just hurt us, but also denies our son the legal recognition and protections that all children should have under our Constitution.”

The State’s brief also notified the court that if the judge agrees that the ban violates the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the state “is prepared to implement that ruling.” Some court observers predict that marriages of same-sex couples could begin in Oregon by late spring or early summer (see Oregonian article).

ACLU of Oregon executive director David Fidanque said that while there still is one more set of briefs to be filed in the case, the legal issues have already been laid out clearly for the court to decide.

“All of the principal parties in this case agree that Oregon’s marriage ban violates the Constitution and should be struck down,” Fidanque said. “The ACLU is leaving nothing to chance. We want to be sure that Judge McShane will have a clear path to reaching that conclusion based on all of the evidence and the legal arguments presented to the court.”

The State’s brief was filed in response to motions for summary judgment filed last month by the attorneys representing four same-sex couples and Basic Rights Education Fund. The first of the cases, Geiger v. Kitzhaber, was filed last October and the ACLU case, Rummell v. Kitzhaber, was filed in December. The two cases were consolidated in January by U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane. Judge McShane is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case on April 23rd in Eugene.