The newspaper article I read had me downcast, but finding out more about the ruling has cheered me up quite a bit. A comment from Basic Rights Oregon sets today’s ruling in a more positive perspective:
The Oregon state legislature will have 90 days from the day they reconvene to agree upon a remedy to the unconstitutional marriage law. During that time, Multnomah County is ordered to stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples. After 90 days, if a remedy has not been agreed upon, Multnomah County will be required to resume the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Like many court decisions, this one is complex and contains both positive and negative components. We are overjoyed that Oregon’s discriminatory marriage law will not be allowed to stand. We are pleased that the State will recognize the marriages of thousands of Oregonians who were legally wed since. We are disappointed, however, that the decision requires that the county discriminate while the legislature takes up the issue.
The Oregon ACLU shares B.R.O.’s outlook.
So it’s better than I had initially thought. Basic Rights Oregon also provided a pdf link to the ruling, which I’m still going through.
UPDATE: Having read the ruling, it’s good but not great. It does say that Oregon can’t constitutionally deny same-sex couples the legal benefits of marriage; but it also endorses the “separate but equal” solution of having “civil unions” for same-sex couples providing full legal rights (on the state level, anyway) while only op-sex couples are permitted to get married. The judge didn’t address the question of if separate is really equal; he just hid behind the civil unions concept.
Exactly what the legal solution will be is up to the legislature, which will have ninety days starting from the next time they convene to come up with something. However, given the makeup of the Oregon legislature, we can depend on them to choose “civil unions” rather than real marriage equality. (Assuming they don’t find a legal way to avoid even giving gays civil unions, that is.)
The ruling also requires the state to record those Oregon same-sex marriage licenses which have already been solomized, so Oregon is the first in the nation on that. Yay us!
If the legislature doesn’t give same-sexers “equal legal rights” within ninety days of their next meeting, then Multnomah will resume issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, which (under the terms of this ruling) the state will have to recognize. So that’s a pretty big stick forcing the legislature to pay attention to this ruling.
Assuming this ruling isn’t stayed or overturned, of course; this is only the lowest court decision.