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Who's next?


It turns out there were (at least) two other pieces of good news yesterday, in addition to it being Dr. Seuss's birthday: it was Jenn and Kenny's second anniversary, and (unrelatedly, as far as I know) Multnomah County, Oregon, decided to start issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

For those unfamiliar with Oregon, that's the county Portland is in. (It would almost have to be; there are a couple areas of Oregon that are very liberal, but most of rural Oregon is, I gather, extremely conservative.)

In addition to that first article (linked above), Portland Communique features a bunch of later articles on the subject. All sorts of interesting stuff. Not clear exactly when they'll start issuing licenses, or whether they'll be stopped before it comes to that.

According to a KATU News article, "Oregon's marriage law states that marriage is a civil contract entered by males who are at least 17 years old and females who are at least 17 years old." (That article, btw, has yet another scientifically meaningless Internet poll on the subject, in which those who approve of the county's new plan outnumber those who don't, 52% to 48%.) . . . Aha; it turns out that's almost a direct quote from Oregon state law:

106.010 Marriage as civil contract; age of parties. Marriage is a civil contract entered into in person by males at least 17 years of age and females at least 17 years of age, who are otherwise capable, and solemnized in accordance with ORS 106.150.

(I suppose one could argue that the "and" means there must be both males and females involved—but at that level of detail, the plurals would suggest there must be more than one of each involved.)

106.020 lists marriages that are prohibited; the only two kinds listed are those in which either of the participants is already married, and those in which the couple are close blood relatives.

Thanks to Jay L. and Heather W. for the info!


The phrasing smells like an artifact of a time when the age of marital consent was different for males and females.

They started issuing licenses a little before 10am and waived the 3-day waiting period (which is not a particularly uncommon thing otherwise). Civil and religious officials were outside the building and began marrying people immediately; at least two venues have been mentioned for large simultaneous weddings in downtown locations later today (the Hilton hotel and the Keller Auditorium). The office which issues marriage licenses is not the sort of majestic building the SF City Hall is, alas.

At the county commisioners*' press conference, they said that Human Rights Oregon and the ACLU asked them to take a look at the state constitutionality of the county policy of not issuing licenses to same sex couples. The county attorney spent a long time reviewing the policy and the law and wrote her opinion; then she got a second opinion from an independant attorney yesterday; both agreed that it was in fact unconstitutional (again, that's the state constitution) to deny licenses to same sex couples. And so the head commisioner decided they had to drop the policy immediately.

*there are five commisioners, but apparently not all of them knew that the county attorney was evaluating the constitutionality of the policy. Only four spoke at the press conference. I'm sure there will be some trouble over the fact that the one who is against same sex marriage was out of the loop, even though this particular decision was based on legal analysis, not a vote by the commisioners, and that it's common for topics not to be discussed by all of them. probably not many hot button topics like this one, though.

And here's my observations from the Multnomah County administration building...


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