PORTLAND, OR, May 19, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An openly gay U.S. district judge, who was appointed by Barack Obama, has struck down Oregon's constitutional marriage protection amendment, ruling that it violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause.
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane ruled that “Oregon's marriage laws discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without a rational relationship to any legitimate government interest”; violate the “Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution”; are “clearly unrelated to protecting children and·encouraging stable families”; and “leave the plaintiffs and their families feeling degraded, humiliated, and stigmatized.”
More than a million Oregon citizens representing 54 percent of state voters approved Measure 36 in 2004, defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The four homosexual couples who sued, McShane wrote, “share in the characteristics that we would normally look to when we describe the ideals of marriage and family.”
“I believe that if we can look for a moment past gender and sexuality, we can see in these plaintiffs nothing more or less than our own families,” he wrote. Yet state laws frustrate the plaintiffs' freedom” by, for example, denying one of the plaintiffs “a low-interest veteran loan,” and forcing a lesbian to adopt a child her girlfriend bore – or as McShane put it, “to be the legal parent of her own children.”
His 26-page ruling also cited children's playground games and syntactical choices as examples of insidious societal discrimination.
“I remember that one of the more popular playground games of my childhood was called 'smear the queer,'” he wrote. “Even today I am reminded of the legacy that we have bequeathed today's generation when my son looks dismissively at the sweater I bought him for Christmas and, with a roll of his eyes, says 'dad…that is so gay.'”
McShane's ruling is unlike many others, in that he refused to allow the National Organization for Marriage to provide a legal defense, meaning the state's law had no one to represent it in his courtroom. Earlier today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked NOM's petition to stay McShane's ruling until the case could be adjudicated. It takes effect immediately.
The ruling came days before state homosexual activists had asked McShane to produce it, so they could avoid a statewide ballot initiative in November, where voters could decide whether to repeal the constitutional amendment they enacted. The leftist group Oregon United asked McShane to rule by May 23 in a court brief, adding, “The emotional toll of an election would be immeasurable.”
The ruling is also just shy of McShane's one-year anniversary on the federal bench. The Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual pressure group, applauded President Barack Obama for naming the homosexual to the lifetime judicial appointment.
Critics say McShane is in a similar situation to California Judge Vaughn Walker, the openly homosexual judge who overturned California's Proposition 8. Lane Borg, a longtime friend of McShane's, had insisted that McShane would not let his personal life influence his decision, and critics “would be ill-advised to think that just because Michael is gay that he is going to rule” against the amendment.
With today's decision, McShane becomes the latest judge to overturn the express will of the voters, often while traditional marriage lacked adequate legal counsel in court.
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Idaho's marriage amendment was overturned by federal judge Candy Dale last Tuesday. County Circuit judge Chris Piazza ruled that Arkansas' amendment was unconstitutional two weeks ago.
Reagan-appointed Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan's amendment in late March.
In January, Clinton-appointed U.S. District Judge Terrence Kern overturned Oklahoma's marriage law.
In February, Clinton-appointed U.S. District Judge for Western Texas Orlando Luis Garcia said Texas' marriage laws had no “rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose.”
The same month, Obama-appointed Judge Arenda Wright Allen overturned Virginia's self-definition of marriage, ruling that the state had unwillingly “arrived upon another moment in history when 'We the People' becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect.” The ruling came after newly elected Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring refused to defend the amendment.
In December 2013, Obama-appointed U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby struck down Utah's constitutional marriage protection amendment.