Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

The wave of court rulings giving same sex couples the legal right to get married has finally, perhaps inevitably, reached Oregon's shores.

On Monday federal Judge Michael McShane, as expected, overturned the state's ban on same sex marriage. In 2004 Oregon voters, with 56.7 percent in favor, approved Measure 36, which added to the state's Constitution a definition of marriage as "between one man and one woman."

Oregon is the 14th state to have its gay marriage ban invalidated since last summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected sections of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

We support McShane's ruling.

And we expect that were the matter put to Oregon voters today, the outcome would be different than it was a decade ago.

We don't believe that defending marriage requires that same sex couples be denied the government's acknowledgement of the relationship, in the form of a marriage license and the legal privileges, such as hospital visitation rights, that entails.

The key word in the preceding paragraph is "government's."

Marriage is a religious institution as well as a legal one, and McShane's ruling doesn't mandate that any denomination change its stance on same sex marriage.

Among the many politicians who issued statements about Monday's ruling, the most reasonable, and relevant, one we have read came from Mike McLane, minority leader from the Oregon House.

"For those that believe marriage is a religious covenant, the origin of which predates America, today's federal court ruling won't change that," said McLane, a Republican from Powell Butte. "For those that believe marriage is a legal union between two people that is recognized and enforced by our state government, today's ruling is a logical extension of the Supreme Court's ruling last summer. Our society must embrace both views."

For the most part we believe society already does embrace both views.

We can only hope that the dozens of gay couples who were married on Monday will be as staunch in their defense of the sanctity of marriage as an institution as they have been in their campaign to get the government's legal blessing for their relationships.