Attorneys for four gay and lesbian couples challenged Oregon’s voter-approved prohibition on gay marriage on April 23, arguing that the ban was unconstitutional because it serves no legitimate government interest.

The plaintiffs include a Black male couple.

Even the state declined to defend the ban, including Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) who has said that the ban is legally indefensible and has refused to offer arguments before the judge.

“We’re all together in this and we’re representing the body of LGBT in the state of Oregon, so the more people we have on our side, the better,” said Paul Rummel to KOIN 6 television news reporters, who is a partner in one of the couples challenging the law. “I think we have a strong case that Oregon’s current law is in direct conflict with U.S. constitutional law, which has a precedent.”

According to the Associated Press, Oregon law has long prohibited same-sex marriage, and voters added the ban to the state constitution in 2004. The decision, approved by 57 percent of voters, came months after Multnomah County, which is the state’s largest county and includes Portland, briefly issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples. About 3,000 gay couples were allowed to marry before a judge halted the practice. The marriages were later invalidated by the Oregon Supreme Court.

The judge said that he will not make a decision until at least May 14 after he’s had a chance to hear the National Organization for Marriage’s arguments in defense of the state law.

The National Organization for Marriage is a nonprofit organization with a mission to protect marriage and faith communities that sustain it.

According to 2010 U.S. Census, 11,773 same-sex couples live in Oregon. Of those couples, the report estimated that 50 percent (5,887 couples) would choose to marry in the first three years.

If the judge rules to strike down the ban, same-sex marriage could begin immediately in Oregon.

Maria Adebola

Special to the AFRO