PORTLAND – The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act Wednesday is resonating across the nation, and in the Northwest, as supporters of same-sex marriage celebrate the landmark ruling.
Proponents of marriage equality in California also got a victory as the high court cleared the way for same-sex marriages by striking down Proposition 8.
The landmark rulings drew immediate response from Northwest lawmakers, many of whom applauded the decision and reaffirmed their support for marriage equality.
“This Supreme Court decision that the federal government must recognize all marriages is a huge stride forward for equality and fairness,” U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon said in a statement shortly after DOMA was ruled unconstitutional.
“No one should be denied equal rights because of whom they love and discrimination has no place in our laws,” he said.
Gay and lesbian couples in Washington, a state that voted to legalize gay marriage at the end of last year, now may receive equal access to federal protections and benefits under the court's ruling.
“This is a great day for the civil rights and marriage equality movement,” said U.S. Senator Patty Murray of Washington in a statement. “Following this good news, I’m going to work with the administration and my colleagues in Congress to ensure that all the rights and federal benefits enjoyed by married couples are provided to LGBT couples as quickly as possible.”
In Oregon, a state that constitutionally prohibits same-sex marriage, lawmakers are using the ruling to reinvigorate support for new legislation.
“The U.S. Supreme Court's decision is a proud moment for the nation. In Oregon, it underscores the urgency of extending the freedom to marry to all our citizens. Oregon has not yet lived up to the ideal of equal rights for all,” Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said in a statement.
Jeana Frazzini executive director of Basic Rights Oregon called Wednesday’s ruling a “monumental victory,” but added that the ruling also stresses the importance of getting marriage equality passed in Oregon.
Oregon is in the majority of states that have not legalized same-sex marriage.
Interactive: Gay marriage legislation by state
The Oregon Family Council, an organization that has opposed previous same-sex marriage measures released a statement Wednesday with a reaction to the ruling.
"The rulings today leave in place the marriage amendments adopted by 30 states," said Teresa Harke, spokesperson for Oregon Family Council. "The definition of marriage enshrined by the citizens of Oregon through the passage of Measure 36 is still intact. The Supreme Court found no constitutional right to redefine marriage."
It's now up to advocates to get a new measure on the 2014 ballot, which would give Oregonians another chance to decide on the fate of same-sex marriage.