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NOM seeks to defend Ore. gay marriage ban, questions gay judge’s impartiality

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
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SALEM, Ore. — The National Organization for Marriage said Monday it plans to file a motion to intervene and defend Oregon’s gay marriage ban from challenges in federal court.

NOM chairman John Eastman

NOM chairman John Eastman

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane is scheduled to hear arguments over Oregon’s voter-approved same-sex marriage ban on Wednesday.

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has declined to defend the state constitutional ban. She says in court filings that there’s no reason the state should treat same-sex couples differently from opposite-sex couples when it comes to marriage.

National Organization for Marriage chairman John Eastman says it’s wrong that a challenge to Oregon’s marriage law would go forward without a meaningful defense.

Eastman also pointed to news reports over the weekend that McShane is in a long-term relationship with another man and that the two are raising a child together.

Eastman says that raises “serious ethical questions about whether the judge should continue to hear the case.”

McShane is one of just nine openly gay members of the federal judiciary, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

“These recent news reports suggest that Judge McShane is in the same position as the two gay men challenging the marriage amendment, raising troubling questions about his impartiality,” Eastman said.

Backers of a ballot initiative to overturn Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban are asking McShane to rule by May 23 so that they don’t have to take their fight to the November ballot.

Follow this case: Geiger v. Kitzhaber.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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