Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum [official website] said in a filing on Thursday that her office will not defend Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage. Rosenblum said [WP report] that the ban cannot survive a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review. Rosenblum went on to say [Reuters report] that there was no rational basis to refuse to honor same-sex marriage commitments the same way the state honors opposite-sex marriages. The National Organization for Marriage [advocacy website] criticized [press release] Rosenblum for “shamefully abandoning” her duty to defend the laws of the state, not just the laws she agrees with. Rosenblum’s decision not to defend Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban comes on the heels of a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the ban.
The heated debate over same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the American legal community, with legal challenges before numerous state and federal courts. Earlier this month Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto declared that her office would no longer be pursuing its legal defense of the state’s same-sex marriage ban, stating that recent decisions in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had rendered the state’s arguments untenable. In January Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced [JURIST report] that his office will no longer defend legal challenges to the commonwealth’s ban on same-sex marriage. In July Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane stated [JURIST report] at a press conference that she will not defend Pennsylvania’s statutory ban on same-sex marriage. In 2013 California Attorney General Kamala Harris filed [JURIST report] an amicus curiae brief with the US Supreme Court arguing that the ban on same-sex marriage imposed by the state’s Proposition 8 [JURIST news archive] is unconstitutional and should therefore be overturned. In 2012 Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed [JURIST report] notice with the Cook County Circuit Court stating that her office will present arguments in support of two lawsuits filed in opposition of the state’s same-sex marriage ban.