Federal Judge Strikes Down Oregon's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2014-05_8fc39e7ba7.jpgiStock/Thinkstock (SALEM, Ore.) -- A federal judge struck down Oregon's same-sex marriage ban Monday, ruling the state's exclusion unconstitutional. Oregon voters passed Measure 36 in 2004, declaring marriage solely between a man and a woman. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum later said the state would not defend the ban in court because she claimed it would not withstand a federal constitutional challenge.

In his opinion Monday, U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane shared some personal words on the ruling.

"I believe that if we can look for a moment past gender and sexuality, we can see in these plaintiffs nothing more or less than our own families. Families who we would expect our Constitution to protect, if not exalt, in equal measure," McShane said. "With discernment we see not shadows lurking in closets or the stereotypes of what was once believed; rather, we see families committed to the common purpose of love, devotion, and service to the greater community."

He even recalled moments from his childhood when a playground game of "smear the queer" gained popularity.

"On a darker level, that same worldview led to an environment of cruelty, violence, and self-loathing," McShane said. "...Even today I am reminded of the legacy that we have bequeathed today's generation when my son looks dismissively at the sweater I bought him for Christmas and, with a roll of his eyes, says 'dad ... that is so gay.'"

The acceptance of civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples "will not burden any legitimate state interest," he added.

Oregon joins 18 other states that have legalized same-sex marriage.

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