Before election day

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

The timing turns out to be fascinating. Could this be the court decision over Oregon law that has more political effect in the state to the east?

That’s on the timing and political side of things, as regards the Monday federal court ruling throwing out Oregon’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. There are of course many other effects, such as those on the people who actually got married in Oregon on Monday, and in the days and years ahead.

The decision was in no way a surprise. The opposition had expected it. The state, whose attorney general ordinarily is obliged to defend the constitutional provision in court, considered the case against it – in the light of recent Supreme Court decisions – such a slam dunk that it refused to mount any kind of defense. There was no legal opposition to an immediate launch to effects of the measure. Had the case not been brought, or moved more slowly, the issue was destined for a ballot issue in November, and seemingly no one – including its strongest critics – seemed to have any thought that it would fail.

A remarkable turnaround from 2004, when voters passed the same-sex marriage ban into the constitution. But then, much in politics is timing, and perceptions about the way things get done. Had not Multnomah County jumped the gun on the issue the way it did, the explosive force that passed the measure might not have succeeded.

And, simply, Oregon has changed some since then too.

The Monday decision does, as in places like Utah and Idaho, run in crosscut against the wishes of the state’s majority; in Oregon’s case, it is surely in line. So it may have little political impact in Oregon. Especially since, in this primary election, most people already had voted by midday Monday.

In Idaho, dealing at almost the same moment with similar legal issues, it may have some political effect on today’s election: Those deeply concerned about the issue may react to it.

We’ll know more about that in a few hours.

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