PORTLAND, Ore. A second county in Oregon announced that it will begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, stirring criticism from pro-family groups who already began a campaign to bring a halt to such licensing, March 16, 2004.
Benton County, home to Oregon State University, will be following the footsteps of Multnomah County, Oregons most populous, which has issued well over 2,200 licenses to gay couples since March 3.
The decision to hand out the licenses came despite the Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers comment that the existing state law prohibits the practice.
Even the democratic governor Ted Kulongoki of Multnomah urged other counties not to follow in its lead.
However, Benton County commissioners passed the action by a 2-1 vote, prompted by Myers additional note that the ban on gay marriage probably violates Oregons constitution, although the practice itself blatantly violates the state laws.
"If the attorney general believes it is likely to be deemed unconstitutional, and if the other opinions out there believe the law is likely to be unconstitutional, it is just as unconstitutional today as it will be next week, next month and next year," County Commissioner Linda Modrell said Tuesday.
Pro-family groups, already active in Multnomah, denounced Benton Countys actions, and dismissed it as a play of politics.
"We would call it using the sacred institution of marriage as a political tool," said Tim Nashif, the spokesman for the Defense of Marriage Coalition, which has already filed a lawsuit against Multnomah County. "They're not making decisions just for Benton County, they are making it for the entire state."
The DMC also began a petition for the enactment of a statewide amendment that would strictly and explicitly prohibit same-sex licenses. 100,000 votes are needed to take the ban to the state House and Senate.
Meanwhile, all the other counties who joined the parade of same-sex marriage licensing last month, were brought to a halt, making Multnomah County the last resort for homosexuals.