Don Ryan / AP file
Ellen Rosenblum, Oregon Attorney General, says the state will enforce, but not defend same-sex marriage ban.
Oregon will enforce — but not defend — the state’s same-sex marriage ban, the attorney general said Thursday, noting that the prohibition could not “withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review.”
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum made the remarks in response to litigation seeking the right for gays and lesbians to wed in Oregon. Attorneys general in Virginia, Nevada and Pennsylvania have taken the same stance against their state bans in the last year.
Two Oregon couples filed the lawsuit last December challenging the state’s constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage, one of dozens of lawsuits challenging such bans across the country since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay rights last summer.
The state “will not defend the Oregon ban on same-sex marriage in this litigation,” Rosenblum wrote in a court filing in response to the litigation. Rather, the position the state will take is “that the ban cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review.”
In the meantime, the state is “legally obligated to enforce the Oregon Constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage.”
A call placed seeking comment to the ACLU, one of the groups representing the couples who brought the lawsuit, was not immediately returned. Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said Rosenblum was "shamefully abandoning her constitutional duty to defend the marriage amendment." A campaign is underway asking voters to replace that ban with the right for gay couples to marry in November.
Seventeen states, plus the District of Columbia, allow same-sex marriage, while 33 states prohibit it. Federal judges in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia have overturned the bans in recent months but stayed the decisions pending further court appeals.
— Miranda Leitsinger
First published February 20 2014, 10:38 AM
Miranda Leitsinger is a reporter at NBC News. She started this role in February 2011. Leitsinger is responsible for long-term enterprise and breaking news coverage. Her beats include recovery from natural disasters and mass shootings, the LGBT community, income inequality, immigration and the Boy Scouts.
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Leitsinger previously worked at CNN.com in Hong Kong as a digital producer, where she collaborated with the network's television staff in Asia to produce enterprise stories for the website. Before that she worked as a reporter at The Associated Press for seven years in various cities, including New York, Miami, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Bangkok, Thailand, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. She covered the aftermath of 9/11 in Florida, the 2004 tsunami in Asia, the initial military tribunal at Guantanamo and Cambodia's bid to recover from genocide and the ensuing decades of civil war.
Leitsinger, a San Francisco native, lives in New York.