Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Thursday, July 01, 2004  

The other big Oregon news is the success of a group to put a measure banning gay marriage on the ballot. I wrote about it this morning at the American Street.


Using the help of 941 churches across the state, organizers gathered a record number of signatures to amend Oregon's constitution and prevent gay marriage. If the measure passes, the Oregon Constitution will read that a marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman. Passage is likely--currently a majority of Oregonians favor the wording. What are the ramifications?

Legally, things are going to be thrown into chaos. Even while the measure will be debated by the public, the constitutionality of gay marriage is now working its way through the courts. The main issue the courts are wrangling with isn't the constitutional definition of marriage; that question is fairly unambiguous. Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers offered this opinion in March:

"Although this section does not state expressly that a marriage must consist of a man and a woman, other statutes that provide context for it leave no doubt in this case.... The legislature has not defined 'husband' or 'wife' for purposes of chapter 106, but we see no basis for giving them other than their 'plain, natural and ordinary meaning.'"

The real question arises with the equality clause in Section 1:

"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."

The current amendment, though, appears only to make unambiguous the language about what constitutes marriage. But that doesn't really address the issue of equal rights--which will remain the heart of the legal decision. The only way to remove contradiction will be to write discrimination into the constitution. (Nowhere can I find the exact wording of the measure--it's not even available on the sponsor's website.)

Continues at the American Street.

posted by Jeff | 11:50 AM |
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