Oregon Judge Orders Stop to Gay Marriage Licenses

UPDATE: Actually, the ruling is better than I initially thought, so this post is more negative than it needed to be. See this post for more information.

Oh, well, it was nice while it lasted…

In a setback for gay rights advocates, Multnomah County Judge Frank Bearden on Tuesday ordered the county to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The decision will likely be appealed, speeding the question of whether gay marriage licenses are allowed under the state Constitution to the Oregon Supreme Court for what could be a historic decision.

Bearden’s action effectively ends gay marriage nationally. Multnomah County is the only jurisdiction known to allow it until May 17. That’s when the state of Massachusetts is slated to begin approving same-sex marriage license applications following a state Supreme Court ruling there.

Bearden said Tuesday in his 16-page ruling that he believes the Oregon Constitution would “allow either a civil union or (marriage) privileges to same-sex couples” and recommended the state follow the example of Vermont and agree to civil unions.

Ultimately, a state Supreme Court ruling is needed to determine whether gay marriage should be allowed in the state, he said.

Read the whole story here.

It’s disappointing, but it didn’t really matter what this judge decides; what matters is what the Oregon Supreme Court decides.

And in the longer run, even if the Supremes decide against marriage equality, that won’t matter either. The fight for marriage equality will never be defeated; the only question is if it’ll take a year, ten years or fifty for us to win. Our eventual victory is inevitable.

For a minor consolation prize, we should remember that this judge’s decision – which seems to say that, at a minimum, same-sex couples must be given civil uinons – would have been seen as radically pro-gay-rights only a year ago.

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