Meanwhile those couples in Oregon who were expecting to join in Domestic Partnerships will have a while longer to wait. The state has a peculiar system whereby a law can be delayed in implementation if there are enough signatures collected to force a vote of the populace.
Those who opposed allowing same-sex couples have any rights similar to those granted to opposite-sex couples gathered signatures but fell 96 short of the 55,179 required to stop the law. However they were able to find a judge to put the celebrations on a hold until he can hear their complaints about possible legal signatures that were invalidated.
The surprise ruling comes four days before the law would allow gay couples to gain most of the same legal benefits of marriage. Couples across Oregon were planning to show up at county offices Wednesday to register as partners.
But U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman ruled that they will have to wait. He set a Feb. 1 hearing to decide a lawsuit challenging the state’s methods for verifying signatures on a November 2008 referendum.
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.
Those who had hoped to strengthen their families will instead light a candle.
In New Hampshire champagne will flow and tears and smiles abound in midnight ceremonies planned by those who just can’t wait any longer.
Whether you will be lighting a candle or toasting in new freedoms, have a very happy, healthy and sane New Year. And resolve to do your part in 2008 to bring about equality for gay couples across the nation and around the world.