With America’s continuing debate over allowing homosexuals to be legally married, one county in Oregon has decided to halt the wedding march for all citizens, irrespective of sexual

The suspension of issuing marriage licenses to everyone by Benton County – home of Oregon State University in Corvallis and viewed as a stronghold of liberalism – became effective at 8 a.m. yesterday.

Linda Modrell

“To maintain consistency with our oath to uphold Oregon’s Constitution’s anti-discrimination provisions,” said Benton County Commission Chair Linda Modrell, “we must temporarily cease issuing marriage licenses to any couple, regardless of gender until there is a state determination.

“We ask for the public’s patience with this temporary inconvenience. It is in everyone’s best interests to stand by and recognize that all citizens receive equal treatment from their government.”

The ban comes on the heels of a previous county decision to issue same-sex licenses, but that was put on hold due to a flurry of threatened lawsuits.

Arguing in favor of licenses for homosexual couples, Modrell stated, “Last week, after reviewing the many legal opinions, including the Oregon attorney general’s, that the state law prohibiting same-sex marriage probably violates the Oregon Constitution’s anti-discrimination proceedings, we were compelled to address the requirements of the Constitution and allow same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses.”

Despite the current ban, heterosexual couples can still apply for licenses in neighboring counties, and have their ceremonies performed in Benton.

The decision is puzzling the likes of Tim Nashif, spokesman for the Defense of Marriage Coalition, who told Reuters:

“We are happy Benton County is not going to violate the law by issuing illegal marriage licenses, but we are perplexed as to why they would not issue legal licenses.”

A statement on his website quotes Nashif as saying “marriage has been and should always be defined in no other way than between one man and one woman.”

Oregon’s law says marriage is “a civil contract entered into in person by males at least 17 years of age and females at least 17 years of age.”

Multnomah County, which includes Portland, sparked controversy in the state by issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples, and continues to be the only jurisdiction in America to do so.

Governments from New Paltz, N.Y., to San Francisco have stopped the practice amid numerous lawsuits.

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