Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Hearing Could Provide Answers In Oregon Gay Marriage Debate

Wednesday could be a big day in the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in Oregon. A federal judge in Eugene will hear arguments from a group that wants to defend a voter-approved ban on gay marriage. 

Four same-sex couples sued the state to overturn the 2004 ballot measure that defined marriage as only between one man and one woman. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum declined to defend the law. As a result, a national group filed a last-minute motion to be allowed to defend the measure on the state's behalf.

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane will hear oral arguments on whether the National Organization For Marriage should be allowed to intervene. NOM chairman John Eastman says his group filed the motion on behalf of Oregon voters who approved the decade-old ban on same-sex marriage.

"An attorney general's obligation is to defend a statute if there are plausible arguments to be made in defense of it. And she's not only not done that, but has affirmatively started attacking the statute it's her job to defend," Eastman said. 

Eastman says his group will likely appeal if the judge rules they cannot intervene in the case. It’s unclear whether that action is allowed or will be up to the judge’s discretion.

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.