Prop 8 and Measure 36
Byline: The Register-Guard
It seems increasingly certain that same-sex marriage is coming to Oregon, whether by means of the courts or the ballot. In the meantime, the status of gays and lesbians who live in Oregon and were married in other states or countries is unclear. It will take a while for the dust to settle in the wake of last week's earthshaking U.S. Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage.
Gay marriage is still prohibited by the Oregon Constitution because of an amendment approved by voters in 2004: "It is the policy of Oregon, and its political subdivisions, that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage." This language, contained in Ballot Measure 36, passed on a 57-43 vote.
California voters also added a same-sex marriage ban to their state Constitution by approving Proposition 8 in 2008: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." A federal judge struck down that amendment, finding that it violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court left that ruling standing last Wednesday.
California's amendment is more concise than Oregon's, but there is no substantive difference between the two. If California's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional, so is Oregon's. The judge's ruling in the California case was upheld by the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over cases arising from Oregon.
Oregon, however, need not follow California's course. Prop 8 came in response to a California Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a statutory gay-marriage ban approved by the state's voters in 2000. …