In a memo sent to state agencies on Wednesday, state Chief Operating Officer Michael Jordan said any same-sex couple who was legally married in one of the 13 states, or in the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage is legal, will be eligible for the same benefits as any other married couple.
“Oregon agencies must recognize all out-of-state marriages for the purposes of administering state programs,” Jordan wrote. “That includes legal, same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries.”
Jordan made the decision based on a legal opinion from the Oregon Department of Justice.
Same-sex marriage is not currently legal in Oregon under a 2004 voter-approved constitutional ban, but Oregon United for Marriage, a broad coalition working to overturn the ban, hopes to put the issue back in front of voters in 2014.
Article continues belowThe group has worked with volunteers to collect more than 94,000 signatures in support of the initiative. They must collect 116,284 valid signatures from registered Oregon voters before next July to put the initiative on the November 2014 ballot.
If approved, the ballot measure would repeal the state’s current constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and grant same-sex couples the right to marry in Oregon.
The decision is unrelated to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Eugene, Ore., on behalf of two same-sex couples, seeking to have the existing ban declared unconstitutional.