National Organization for Marriage Files Motion Seeking to Intervene in Oregon Marriage Case


Contact: Elizabeth Ray or Matille Thebolt (703-683-5004)

"We are acting to protect the interests of our members in Oregon who support traditional marriage, including government officials, voters and those in the wedding industry, who will be directly impacted by this collusive lawsuit which the state has refused to defend." — Brian Brown, NOM president —


Washington, D.C. — The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) said it will file a motion in federal court later today seeking to intervene in the case challenging the constitutionality of the 2004 state ballot measure that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. NOM seeks to protect the interests of its members in Oregon which include a County Clerk, professionals in the wedding industry and voters who supported the 2004 amendment to the state constitution. The group said the intervention filing became necessary when the state Attorney General refused to mount a defense of the amendment, a situation that creates a "collusive" lawsuit where the public's interests are unrepresented.

"Marriage in Oregon is worthy of defense, yet the Attorney General has abandoned her duty to defend the marriage state constitutional amendment enacted overwhelmingly in 2004 and in effect has switched sides," said Brian Brown, president of NOM. "As a membership organization, we speak on behalf of our members, including a County Clerk in the state, several professionals in the wedding industry, and voters. All of these individuals have a particularized interest in the outcome of the litigation, yet their interests are not being represented. We are working to protect the interests of our members who support true marriage against a collusive lawsuit that has the state joining with the plaintiffs against the interests of our members, and the state's voters."

The challenge to Measure 36, the state constitutional amendment defining marriage, is currently scheduled for oral argument in federal district court in Eugene on Wednesday, April 23rd.

NOM's lead legal counsel — its chairman John Eastman — will tell the federal court in the filing today that NOM's members in Oregon include a county clerk who must perform marriages and certify them, professionals in the wedding industry, and voters who cannot defend their interests in upholding the law themselves due to legitimate fear of reprisal.

"It is precisely for this reason that federal law has a strong premise that organizations like NOM should be able to intervene to defend the interests of their members who cannot adequately defend those interests themselves," said John Eastman, NOM's Chairman and Director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence at The Claremont Institute. Eastman, a noted constitutional law scholar and former clerk to US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, added that, "even the simple fact of having to publicly identify themselves as supporters of traditional marriage would subject them to reprisals. This is obvious and well-documented from what's occurred to businesses in Oregon and elsewhere."

In 2009, the Heritage Foundation published a report, "The Price of Prop 8," detailing numerous examples of harassment, boycotts and other threats against supporters of the 2008 constitutional amendment in California, nearly identical to Oregon's amendment, defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Since then many further examples have been widely reported, including an Oregon baker whose business has effectively been shuttered, and most recently a woman whose new natural food business is being boycotted over her support for true marriage.

Eastman also said that news reports over the weekend that Judge Michael McShane is in a long-term relationship with another man and that the two are raising a child together raise serious ethical questions about whether the judge should continue to hear the case.

"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. "But regardless of what judge eventually hears this matter, it is wrong that a challenge to Oregon's marriage law would proceed in federal court with no meaningful defense of the constitutional amendment adopted overwhelmingly by voters. Their interests, and the particular interests of those involved in performing or celebrating wedding ceremonies deserve a defense. If our motion to intervene is granted, we intend to fully and aggressively defend the state constitutional amendment."


To schedule an interview with Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, or John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, please contact Elizabeth Ray, [email protected], or Matille Thebolt, [email protected], at 703-683-5004

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