A federal judge in Eugene has ruled Oregon's same sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.

Some counties are prepared to begin offering marriage licenses today. There's a line of couples who have been waiting outside of the Multnomah County building.

Earlier this morning, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that clears the way for same-sex marriages to begin immediately. The Court of Appeals denied a national group's request to block the judge's ruling. The National Organization for Marriage earlier unsuccessfully sought to defend the ban on behalf of its Oregon members.

The initial lawsuit was brought by four gay and lesbian couples who argued it was discriminatory.

The Oregon Attorney General refused to defend the ban based on decisions by judges in other states.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden issued the following statement:

It's a simple idea.  Everyone in America ought to be free to marry the person that they love. 

And at long last, that freedom has come to Oregon.  

Today, Judge Michael McShane struck down Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage, clearing the way for loving couples across our state to start getting married.

I'm proud to say that I stood up for marriage equality when I ran for the U.S. Senate in 1995. That wasn't a popular view then, and I'm thrilled to see so many Oregonians -- so many Americans -- come around to the view that everyone should have the freedom to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As we take another step on the path to progress today, know that you can always count on me to stand up for civil rights for all Americans.  

Now, let's celebrate!

Senate President Peter Courtney said, “Marriage equality is about fairness. It’s about justice. It’s about caring.” 

18 states and the District of Columbia now allow gay marriage.  

Photo: KATU-TV