WASHINGTON (ABP) — A civil-rights group has filed suit against the state of Oregon on behalf of a group of gay couples, and Iowa legislators have rejected an anti-gay-marriage amendment to that state's constitution — the latest salvos in the nationwide war over same-sex marriage.
In Oregon, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit March 24 on behalf of nine same-sex couples wed in Portland since Multnomah County officials began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples March 3. The suit seeks a declaration that state laws reserving marriage to heterosexual couples violate provisions of the Oregon constitution.
Groups in Oregon opposing same-sex marriage reportedly will drop their lawsuits challenging the Portland weddings and join the case on the side of the state. They will, however, continue their attempts to get a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the November ballot.
Meanwhile, in Iowa, the state Senate rejected a proposed amendment to the Iowa constitution March 23 that would have limited marriage to heterosexual unions. Iowa already has a law banning same-sex marriage.
The firestorm began in November when a closely divided Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that that state's constitution required same-sex couples to have the same rights to marriage as heterosexual couples. Since then, municipal officials in Portland as well as San Francisco; Sandoval County, N.M.; and New Paltz, N.Y., have begun marrying same-sex couples.
Court orders in California and New Mexico and pressure from state officials in New York have halted the weddings in those states — at least temporarily. But they continue apace in Oregon. So far, thousands of same-sex couples from across the country have been married in Portland and the other locales.
In May, Massachusetts will begin granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Although an effort is afoot there to amend the state's constitution to prohibit such marriages, such an amendment would not take effect for years.
Congress is also considering at least two versions of an amendment that would prohibit marriage to same-sex couples. President Bush has thrown his support behind the effort.