Oregon Judge Places Condition after Ordering to Halt Same-Sex Marriages

( [email protected] ) Apr 21, 2004 11:37 AM EDT

On April 20, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Frank Bearden in Portland, Oregon, ordered that the county officials stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples putting a cap on the 3,000 same-sex marriage licenses issued since March 3. However, pro-family advocates are still holding their breath as the Oregon judge argues for the state to recognize already married same-sex couples and for same-sex unions.

He ordered the county to stop issuing the marriage licenses only to allow a higher court ‘‘to affirm the proper course of action to take,” according to a letter released to lawyers in the case. He said although he “believes the Oregon Constitution would allow either civil unions or gay marriage, a state Supreme Court ruling is needed first.” Bearden, following Vermont’s model where pushing for same rights resulted in civil unions, suggested that civil unions was a “sound remedy” to the controversy. He gave the Oregon Legislature 90 days from the start of its next session, which could be as early as June, to come up with the new law or ordered that Multnomah County would be allowed to continue issuing gay marriage licenses.

"The best solution would be to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman -- the definition of marriage that Oregonians have known for generations," said House Speaker Karen Minnis, who wants legislatures to place a ban on gay marriage on the statewide ballot during the meeting in June.

The decision on the state’s official stance on marriage should not be determined by the court, according to Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.

"Today's decision is a victory for those of us who were seeking an immediate stop to the illegal distribution of same-sex 'marriage' licenses,” said Perkins in a written statement. “However, the court's logic is flawed in stating that it is the Oregon Supreme Court who ultimately must decide the fate of marriage in that state.

"Public policy decisions, especially those as far-reaching as the radical redefinition of marriage, are meant to be determined by the people and their elected representatives in the legislature, not judges.”

Also on April 20, California Assembly committee passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. The bill still needs to be passed in the full Legislature.

"Until Congress passes and the states ratify the Federal Marriage Amendment, we will be forced to put these fires out in cities and counties across America,” said Perkins.