PORTLAND, Ore., May 19 (UPI) -- Couples lined up in Portland early Monday, hours before a federal judge ruled that Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane refused to grant a stay of his ruling. The state did not seek one, and a federal appeals court rejected an attempt by the National Organization for Marriage to get a stay while it seeks to intervene in the case.
"Because Oregon's marriage laws discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without a rational relationship to any legitimate government interest, the laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendmenfto the United States Constitution," the judge said.
Oregon joins a growing list of states where judges have overturned state laws or constitutional amendments on same-sex marriage. In some cases, states have only been ordered to recognize marriages contracted legally in other jurisdictions.
Deanna Geiger, 55, and Janine Nelson, 53, were the second couple to arrive at the Multnomah County Building in Portland. Geiger and Nelson married a decade ago when the county began issuing licenses to same-sex couples only to have the marriage become invalid when Oregon voters approved a state-wide ban.
Geiger and Nelson sued the county and state, setting off a new round of legal action.
"It was a total wind out of the sails," Nelson told The Oregonian. "Hopefully it sticks this time."
County officials emerged periodically to chat with the waiting couples.
This is huge," Commissioner Loretta Smith said. "It's going to change the lives of a lot of folks in Multnomah County and give them a sense of security they didn't have."