Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage has been declared unconstitutional following a decision by a federal appeals judge. The judge heard a case centered on a Portland woman who claims she was denied health care benefits for her spouse, a woman whom she married in Canada. The judge found that the woman’s sexual orientation was the only reason she was denied benefits for her wife and categorized the state’s action as discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Oregon’s Attorney General said the state is largely not concerned with the results of the civil litigation, explaining it is unlikely to prompt widespread changes across the state. He noted that Oregon is still waiting on the results of two prominent Supreme Court cases concerning same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court recently heard arguments concerning one state’s ban of same-sex marriage, as well as the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies same-sex couples the right to marry.
The case began when an Oregon woman filed a complaint under the Employment Dispute Resolution Plan, asserting that the government discriminated against her when she tried to obtain benefits for her wife. She claims she receive a letter from the U.S. Court system turning down her request for benefits based on the Defense of Marriage Act and other regulations. The judge ultimately ruled in her favor and also found that Oregon’s Measure 36, which stipulates that only a marriage between a man and woman is to be legally recognized, is in violation of the U.S. Constitution. He explained that he saw no logical objection to banning same-sex marriage in the state.
The opinion has won support from a number of pro-gay marriage groups, such as Basic Rights Oregon. An official with that group praised the ruling as a major victory for gay rights advocates across the state, but explained that a state-wide vote is still the best way to overturn Measure 36.
If you believe a judgment in your civil case should be appealed, contact an experienced appeals attorney to see what options you may have.
Source: oregonlive.com, “Oregon same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, federal judge says in employee discrimination case” Bryan Denson, Apr. 25, 2013