Federal judge rules advocacy group cannot defend Oregon same-sex marriage law

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Oregon [official website] on Wednesday rejected [transcript; NOM press release] an attempt [motion] by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) [advocacy website] to intervene in litigation to defend the state's same-sex marriage ban. NOM presented the petition in oral argument, and it was immediately denied by Judge Michael McShane, who questioned why the would-be intervenors failed to timely file the petition or why they failed to file an amicus curiae brief. Using an analogy to the Supreme Court decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry [JURIST report], the judge also expressed hesitation to allow a private organization to replace the executive branch in a lawsuit where the organization is based in Washington, DC, for lobbying purposes, only retains a membership of 100 state citizens and failed to identify any present, concrete harm to the citizens of Oregon in disallowing the petition. McShane concluded:

This is an Oregon case that impacts the lives of Oregon citizens. Its timeliness and its posture are not going to be held in abeyance by the intervention of a political lobbying group. I know that many Oregonians are probably disappointed by the lack of adversarial debate in this case, but I am not prepared to substitute the Executive Branch with a third party. ... So it's an Oregon case. It will remain an Oregon case.
NOM said that it would take its right to an immediate appeal and request a stay of the decision. McShane replied, "The stay will be denied." McShane's decision leaves Oregon's ban undefended, as the state's attorney general has declined to defend the law.

The heated debate over same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the American legal community. Litigation is currently ongoing in numerous state and federal courts, including Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana and Georgia, among others. A challenge is expected to South Dakota's same-sex marriage ban, which would leave North Dakota and Montana as the only states [TIME report] whose same-sex marriage bans have not been challenged in court.

 

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