Oregon AG Says Gay Marriages are Illegal

( [email protected] ) Mar 12, 2004 06:48 PM EST

SALEM, Ore. -- On Friday, March 12, Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers issued an 11 page statement that explicitly said the state law “without any question” defines marriage in the traditional sense.

“[W]e conclude that existing Oregon statutes authorize issuance of a marriage license only to one man and one woman,” Myers wrote, throwing the third blow to pro-gay activists in the past two days; on March 11, the California courts issued an immediate halt to the issuance of homosexual “marriage” licenses in San Francisco. On the same day, Massachusetts’ legislature moved one step closer toward passing a state constitutional marriage amendment.

Myer’s statement came in reaction against the actions of Multnomah County, Ore., where officials began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couple, March 3. Because Oregon is one of 12 states that do not explicitly prohibit gay couples from getting “married,” it was not immediately clear whether officials in the county would halt their actions.

“They should apply the existing law as the attorney general has recommended to us,” Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said at a news conference. “It is still the law of this state. There has been no Supreme Court decision that’s definitive on this issue.”

The Governor’s opinion, however, came with a warning that the Oregon Supreme Court may rule that ““withholding from same-sex couples the legal rights, benefits and obligations” of marriage violates Article 1, section 20 of the state constitution, which reads “No law shall be passed granting to any citizen or class of citizens privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens.”

While Harvy’s ultimate point was the conclusions they’ve reached “are not without doubt,” conservative groups said his opinion will likely add to support a state amendment protecting the traditional definition of marriage.

"The attorney general's opinion underscores our urgent need to amend the constitution so as to stipulate that marriage in Oregon is only between one man and one woman," said Kelly Boggs, pastor of Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore.

Meanwhile, conservative leaders in Oregon began a petition drive to place the amendment before the voters this fall. They need to gather 100,000 signatures by July. For more information, please visit: www.defenseofmarriagecoalition.org.