Expert warns of legal bumps ahead of Oregon gay marriage ruling


by Wayne Havrelly, KGW Staff

Posted on May 19, 2014 at 4:57 AM

Updated Monday, May 19 at 5:45 AM

PORTLAND -- John Halseth and Robin Castro were nervous Sunday, one day before a judge could overturn Oregon's gay marriage ban.

They were among 3000 same sex couples who were legally married in Multnomah County 11 years ago.

All those marriages were overturned when Oregon voters passed a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages. 

"It was a special time in history and then a month later, when we got annulled, it was devastating," said John Halseth. "We felt like second class citizens because they said, 'Sorry, your love doesn't count.'" 

Monday at noon, a federal judge in Eugene plans to release an opinion that could overturn the state ban and make same sex marriages legal once again in Oregon.

More: Oregon's gay marriage ban could be shot down Monday 

Erin Ryan is a constitutional law professor at Lewis and Clark college. She said it's possible the judge may not even get a chance to make a ruling on Monday. 

The 9th Circuit Court could issue a stay pending appeal because this case has no defendants. That's because the National Organization for Marriage, based in Washington D.C., was late in filing a petition in the case.

"The 9th Circuit panel could agree with the National Organization for Marriage, that they should have been allowed to intervene as defenders because otherwise no one is defending the law," said Ryan.

Oregon's Attorney General and Governor Kitzhaber have both refused to defend the state's gay marriage ban.

Kim Foren is a local florist who was busy making wedding flower arrangements Sunday. She anticipates Monday will be a big day. 

"I'm even having a family event tonight and we will be making 500 boutonnieres," said Foren.

If the judge overturns the ban at noon Monday, state officials have said that same sex marriages could begin immediately. 

Both sides say they will try to appeal depending on which way the federal judge rules.