Oregon To Recognize Marriages of Gay Couples Wed Out of State

The state of Oregon will now recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who legally wed out of state.

In a memo sent to all state agencies today, state Chief Operating Officer Michael Jordan says any gay couple who wed in a state where same-sex marriage is legal will now be eligible for the same benefits as any other married couple.

"Oregon agencies must recognize all out-of-state marriages for the purposes of administering state programs," Jordan writes. "That includes legal, same sex marriages performed in other states and countries."

Jordan made the decision based on a legal opinion from the Oregon Department of Justice. 

"The opinion says that for years, Oregon has had a history of recognizing valid marriages that were performed in other states," says Department of Administrative Services spokesman Matt Shelby tells WW.

For example, he says, common law marriages are one example of weddings not legal in Oregon, but legal elsewhere.

Changing Oregon's practices to recognize the union between couples of the same gender brings the state in line with the federal government, which began recognizing gay marriages last year when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act.

The opinion from the state Department of Justice does not involve the legality of allowing same-sex couples to wed in Oregon

That question is currently under two separate challenges: both a 2014 ballot initiative to overturn the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and, as WW reported first yesterday, the ban is also being challenged in federal court.