National Organization for Marriage chairman asks Supreme Court to suspend Oregon ruling

(Reuters) - A prominent opponent of same-sex marriage has asked the Supreme Court to suspend an Oregon federal judge's ruling that the state's gay marriage ban was unconstitutional, he said on Tuesday.

John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, wants to make his case against four same-sex couples' successful challenge to the ban, which District Judge Michael McShane overturned on May 19.

The U.S. Supreme Court in January postponed a Utah district judge's ruling that found the state's gay marriage ban was unconstitutional, but not before more than 1,000 couples married.

Oregon's Attorney General said in February that she would not defend the 2004 voter-approved amendment to the state's constitution to define marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman.

"In Oregon, not only do we have a single trial court judge imposing his own opinion and invalidating the votes of the overwhelming majority of Oregon voters, but the case involves the state Attorney General refusing to even mount a defense of the people’s decision," Eastman said.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals previously refused a request by the group to halt the proceedings.

The Oregon ruling was one of several victories this month for advocates of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Those rights have been extended to include gay men and women in more than half a dozen states, a trend that has gained momentum since the Supreme Court ruled in June that legally married same-sex couples nationwide are eligible for federal benefits.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Louise Ireland)