The state of Oregon is now recognizing all same-sex marriages performed out-of-state, Willamette Week reports:
In a memo sent to all state agencies today, state Chief Operating Officer Michael Jordan (pictured) says any gay couple who wed in a state where same-sex marriage is legal will now 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 writes. "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.
"The opinion says that for years, Oregon has had a history of recognizing valid marriages that were performed in other states," says Department of Administrative Services spokesman Matt Shelby tells WW.
Yesterday, two gay couples filed suit in Oregon demanding the freedom to marry in the state. There is also a ballot measure coming in 2014 from Oregon United for Marriage which would do away with the state's same-sex marriage ban.
In light of recent United States Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage, the Department of Justice reviewed the potential impact of those decisions on Oregon state agencies. The DOJ opinion is attached, but in short, Oregon agencies must recognize all out-of-state marriages for the purposes of administering state programs. That includes legal, same sex marriages performed in other states and countries.
The DOJ opinion discusses the difference between Oregon’s definition of marriage – as between one man and one woman – and the state’s practice of recognizing marriages performed in other states. It describes how Oregon courts have consistently recognized valid out-of-state marriages, even when the marriage could not be performed in Oregon – such as common-law marriages. Although the Oregon constitution might be construed to prohibit recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages, DOJ concludes that such a construction would violate the federal constitution.
This DOJ opinion does not answer the question regarding a same sex couple’s ability to legally wed in Oregon. However, it makes a clear case for all legal marriages performed in other states and countries to be recognized in Oregon. Please keep this in mind as you administer the many programs Oregonians count on each day.