>Although the court left the door open for the state Legislature to create a alternative to marriage for same-sex couples, the court ruled that because it is a matter of statewide concern, no one county could take unilateral action.
Multnomah County started permitting same-sex couples to marry a year ago, but officials there were stopped after six weeks by a state judge. However, in that time, 3,000 couples had married (See Judge Halts Oregon Same-Sex Marriages ).
>Last November, the residents of the state voted to approve a proposal that limited marriage to a union of one man and one woman, the court also noted. On top of this, the court stated that state law had, before the amendment, set limitations on who can be married through a statute.
“We conclude that Oregon law currently places the regulation of marriage exclusively within the province of the state’s legislative power,” the court said in its opinion .
With the court coming down against the marriages, the Legislature is set to act, according to the Associated Press. Governor Ted Kulongoski has already said he will push for the legalization of civil unions for same-sex couples.
Vermont was the first and still the only state to allow civil unions to same-sex couples, passing a law in 2000. Massachusetts has allowed gay marriages for a year after its state Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to not allow same-sex partners to be wed.