Same-sex marriage (SSM) and
domestic partnerships in Oregon.
Part 10: 2014-MAY: Opinions about
the political structure of the U.S.
NOM unsuccessfully requests a stay from
the U.S. Supreme Court.
Differences of opinion about the U.S. political structure:
When the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) filed a motion with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals asking judges to stay the District Court ruling, NOM's president, Brian Brown, gave his assessment of the case. He said:
"This case is an ugly example of inappropriate cooperation between the Attorney General and the gay marriage lobby, both of whom want to redefine marriage in contravention of the overwhelming decision of the people to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The people of Oregon are entitled to a defense of their decision on marriage rather than being abandoned in court." 1
This statement illustrates two main differences of belief concerning the nature of democracy in the U.S.:
- Many religious and social conservatives believe that the U.S. is a pure democracy. This leads directly to the belief that the vote of the people, as reflected in Measure 36 -- the 2004 amendment to the state Constitution that banned SSM -- is the highest law in the state.
- Almost everyone else believes that the U.S. is a constitutional democracy. The highest law in the land is the U.S. Constitution. The due process and equal protection clauses in Amendment 14 to the U.S. Constitution requires federal and state governments to give same-sex couples the same access to marriage as opposite-sex couples.
NOM's reaction also illustrates another point of difference between many conservatives and others:
- Many religious and social conservatives believe that the 2004 amendment to the state constitutional is still an accurate reflection of public opinion a decade later.
- Others study more recent public opinion polls and accept that the majority of people of Oregon have reversed their beliefs concerning same-sex marriage in the past decade. Support for same-sex marriage is now approaching 60%. If the 2004 constitutional amendment were repeated today, it would almost certainly fail.
This conflict could easily be resolved if the two sides would engage in sincere, honest dialogue. But that appears to be impossible.
Further developments involving the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) :
NOM received more bad news during late-MAY. Daily News in the UK reported:
"The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices issued a scathing report, faulting the group for failing to register as a ballot question committee and file campaign finance reports while working to defeat the state's marriage equality law in 2009. The commission called it a 'significant violation of the law,' and the group could face fines of more than $50,000 and be ordered to reveal its donors." 1
Marc Solomon, the campaign director for Freedom to Marry -- a group that promotes marriage equality nationally -- commented:
"From coast to coast, today was a particularly bad day for NOM. They were finally called on the carpet and fined for flouting campaign finance laws and illegally hiding their donors in Maine, while their desperate attempt to keep committed couples in Oregon from marrying failed. Perhaps it's time for them to consider moving on." 1
For now, many media sources are stating that Oregon is the 18th state to have attained marriage equality permanently. Including the District of Columbia, this makes 19 political jurisdictions where same-sex couples can freely marry.
The next state -- the 19th -- to attain marriage equality was Pennsylvania on 2014-MAY-22. Another District Court judge ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. The Attorney General of that state, Kathleen Kane (D), favors marriage equality. Governor Tom Corbett (R), does not. However, he is facing a difficult re-election campaign, and decided to not appeal the decision or request a stay. So, the court decision is not being appealed. Same-sex couples are continuing to marry there.
2014-MAY-27: National Organization for Marriage (NOM) makes one last appeal:
After being refused a stay by both the District Court and by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, NOM filed a final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. They asked that the Court issue a stay to at least temporarily halt marriages by same-sex couples in Oregon.
This is another demonstration of the importance of thorough advance preparation by those same-sex couples who wish to marry. They need to have their plans in place to obtain an marriage license and be married as quickly as possible. Many times during the previous decade, the window for same-sex marriages have opened up, only to be slammed shut a few hours, days, or weeks later. So, speed can be of the essence.
NOM's appeal referred to three of its Oregon members who they say:
"... have particularized interest at stake in the litigation." They members are:
- a county clerk who issues marriage licenses. She or he is probably conflicted between their oath of office which requires them to obey state laws without discrimination and her religious beliefs to not help a lesbian or gay person.
- a provider of wedding services -- perhaps a wedding photographer or a baker of wedding cakes who is conflicted between the requirement of Oregon human rights laws to not discriminate against potential customers, and the provider's religious beliefs which they feel prohibit them from helping a gay or lesbian couple.
- a person who voted for the 2004 state constitutional amendment and is apparently distressed that same-sex couples are now being treated equally. 5
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy received NOM's appeal. He is the U.S. Supreme Court's Circuit Justice for Oregon. He handles emergency appeals to the Supreme Court from Oregon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Idaho, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Washington -- the ten states, one territory, and one commonwealth in political union with the U.S. that are served by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 2
NOM's appeal to the Supreme Court was not the first of its type. In Utah, an appeal to the Supreme Court for a stay of a District Court ruling on same-sex marriage was requested and granted in 2014-JAN after about 1,300 same-sex couples had married. But that case was different from Oregon's, because the appeal was by Utah's Attorney General, who -- along with the Governor -- had legal standing in the case. In the Oregon case, the National Organization for Marriage has no similar claim for standing.
On 2014-MAY-28, Justice Kennedy asked for briefs to be submitted to him by JUN-02. Although he has the authority to decide such appeals himself, he involved all of the other eight Justices of the Supreme Court. 2 On JUN-04, the Court issued a one-sentence ruling denying NOM's request for a stay. It states:
"The application for stay presented to Justice Kennedy and by him referred to the Court is denied." 3
The Supreme Court does not have any obligation to give reasons why they deny a petition or an appeal.
David Fidanque, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, said in an interview:
"Obviously, we're delighted. ... Since last June's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court [overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act], every federal court that's looked at this question has concluded that state bans on marriage by same-sex couples are unconstitutional. We're delighted that Oregon has joined the list, and it looks like it's going to stay there." 4
He also issued a statement, saying:
We are delighted that the Court has rejected NOM’s attempt to derail marriage equality in Oregon. We are confident that marriage equality in Oregon will help pave the way for marriage equality nationwide." 4
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Rough Day For The Anti-Gay National Organization For Marriage," Daily News, 2014-MAY-20, at: http://www.dailynews724.com/
- "Gay marriage in Oregon: Justice Kennedy asks litigants to weigh in on appeal to Supreme Court," OregonLive, 2014-MAY-28, at: http://www.oregonlive.com/
- Warren Richey, "Same-sex marriage stands in Oregon after Supreme Court denies stay of ruling," Christian Science Monitor, 2014-JUN-04, at: http://www.csmonitor.com/
- Maria L. Ganga, "U.S. Supreme Court refuses to block Oregon gay marriage," Los Angeles Times, 2014-JUN-04, at: http://www.latimes.com/
- Chris Geidner, "National Organization For Marriage Asks Supreme Court To Stop Oregon Same-Sex Marriages," BuzzFeed Politics, 2014-MAY-28, at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/ The text of their application is at the bottom of the article.
Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2014-MAY
Latest update: 2014-JUN-06
Author: B.A. Robinson