On Dec. 28 a federal judge has delayed the implementation of an Oregon law that would give domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples.
U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman ruled that the law, which would have taken effect Jan. 1, would be suspended pending a Feb. 1 hearing.
Opponents of the law asked for a hearing after the state ruled they had failed to collect the required number of valid signatures to put the law on the 2008 referendum.
The signature-gatherers have filed suit challenging the signature verification process. Mosman said that the hearing was necessary to make sure the rights of voters weren’t violated if the state wrongly rejected their signatures.
Mosman said attorneys for opponents showed that the rights of voters may have been violated if their signatures were wrongly rejected. Setting the next hearing in a month reduces the harm to people who would be affected by the new law, he said.
Supporters of the domestic partnership law have called the delay another hurdle for same-sex couples and their families to overcome.
The ruling does not effect another state law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment and public places.
The domestic partnership law guarantees same-sex couples almost all the rights of marriage, including child care, custody and visitation rights, inheritance, and joint insurance policies.