Oregon Agencies Will Recognize Out-of-State Gay Marriages

Oregon state agencies must recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, even though the state’s constitution bars such nuptials, Oregon’s justice department said in a legal opinion.

“We cannot identify any defensible state interest, much less a legitimate or compelling one, in refusing to recognize marriages performed between consenting, unrelated adults under the laws of another state,” said Oregon Deputy Attorney General Mary Williams in an Oct. 16 opinion. “It is legally defensible for Oregon agencies to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed in other jurisdictions.”

Williams was responding to an inquiry by the state’s administrative services department about whether, in light of recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings, Oregon agencies can treat same-sex couples legally married in other states as married for the purposes of administering tax laws and benefits programs providing health insurance, Williams said.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples legally married in states that allowed it. The court also reinstated a federal judge’s order allowing gay marriages in California.

At least 13 states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage.

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