The National Organization for Marriage wants the U.S. Supreme Court to stop same-sex couples from marrying in Oregon while the group appeals a decision overturning a state ban on those marriages.
"We are asking Justice (Anthony) Kennedy and the U.S. Supreme Court to take the step of staying the decision of Judge (Michael) McShane so that NOM can pursue its request to intervene in the case," said NOM chairman John Eastman in a statement Tuesday. "This case is an ugly spectacle of the state refusing to defend the sovereign act of its voters."
Oregon voters approved a state constitutional amendment in 2004 that declared marriage was only between one man and one woman. Four couples challenged the amendment as federally unconstitutional in the fall of 2013.
NOM asked to intervene and defend the law in April after Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced in February that the state would not. McShane denied that request and overturned the amendment May 19.
Same-sex couples throughout Oregon rejoiced at the news and began marrying immediately. NOM's motion, which was filed Tuesday, wants to stop more of those unions from occurring until the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether McShane erred in denying NOM the right to defend Oregon's law.
"Today's motion is NOM's latest, last-ditch attempt to keep loving Oregon families from sharing in the freedom to marry as long as they possibly can," said Amy Ruiz, Oregon United for Marriage's deputy campaign manager in a statement. "Just as they did last week, the legal team will vigorously defend against NOM's latest scare tactic."
McShane is one of more than a dozen District Court judges who have overturned state bans on gay marriage in recent months. However, many of those decisions have been stayed (delayed).
It's also not unprecedented for the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on these decisions.
In January, the justices unanimously ruled in favor of staying the ruling to overturn Utah's ban on same-sex unions while the state appeals the decision. That left about 1,000 marriages in legal limbo.
"The Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that it does not want a profound social change such as redefining marriage to be made by trial judges without the Supreme Court itself deciding the issue," Eastman said in his statement.
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