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Oregon won't defend gay-marriage ban in lawsuit

By Nigel Duara

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Feb. 20 2014 10:05 p.m. MST

Last year, Rosenblum signed on to U.S. Supreme Court briefs arguing it was unconstitutional to deny gays the right to marry.

Kevin Mannix, an attorney and former chairman of the Oregon Republican Party, said the legal environment surrounding gay marriage is "in flux."

"The most that can be said about (the federal) legal decisions is that it is a gray area," Mannix said, "and in those circumstances, the vote of the people deserves the benefit of the doubt."

Nationally, attorneys general in five states — Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois and Nevada — have declined to defend same-sex marriage bans against lawsuits filed by gay couples. A sixth, in New Mexico, challenged longstanding legal interpretations that said such unions were impermissible there.

The Democrat running for Colorado attorney general called on the current Republican officeholder to stop defending the state's prohibition. And in Texas, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis demanded that her likely Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, do the same.

In other states, such as Utah, Oklahoma and Kentucky, federal judges have voided all or part of voter-approved bans on same-sex marriage. Appeals are pending.

Gay marriage opponents, meanwhile, have taken the opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to such bans.

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter argued in legal filings this week that states, not the federal government, have the right to define marriage. He contends that Idaho's laws banning same-sex marriage are vital to the state's goal of creating "stable, husband-wife unions for the benefit of their children."

Reach reporter Nigel Duara on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nigelduara

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