EUGENE, Ore. — The national issue of same-sex marriage is taking center stage in Oregon.
On Wednesday afternoon, Judge Michael McShane heard oral arguments from attorneys. The courtroom was packed with people eagerly sitting in to listen to each attorneys’ arguments.
The case, which was filed last year, is gaining national attention because it could overturn Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Four gay and lesbian couples filed two lawsuits that have been consolidated into one case, saying their federal equal protection rights were violated by Oregon’s constitutional provision.
In court, attorneys argued the state of Oregon already recognizes gay and lesbian couples but is hurting and discriminating against a class of people. Attorneys say this case revolves around the equal protection and due process clauses.
“The equal protection clause is the constitution’s equality guarantee and obviously Oregon’s marriage exclusion denies equality to same-sex couples,” said Misha Isaak, Perkins Coie attorney.
Isaak says the due process clause contains the notion of liberty. He says from that protection of liberty the Supreme Court has developed a doctrine that people have the right to privacy, to have intimate relationships without government intervention.
The state attorney general has said in the past she will not defend the ban, saying there’s no legal justification for it.
Judge McShane won’t make a ruling until May 14 after another round of oral arguments from the national organization for marriage.