Countdown to crucial gay marriage decision that's coming at noon

Ten years ago, thousands of gay couples rushed to the Multnomah County government building the same day the clerk's office started giving same-sex marriage certificates.

Ten years later, Deborah and Betty, married in March 2004, say they won't rush to the clerk's office again this time around even if given the chance on Monday by Federal Judge Michael McShane.

"We've watched what's happened in the last ten years," said Betty, who asked not to use her last name. "We want it to stick. We want it to be real."

Judge McShane will announce his decision at noon on Monday that could overturn Oregon's Measure 36, which banned gay marriage in November 2004 and ultimately un-married the 3,000 gay couples like Deborah and Betty who got licenses in Multnomah County.

The ban was passed by 57 percent of Oregon voters.

If Judge McShane overturns the ban on the grounds that it violates the 14th Amendment, he could make his decision effective immediately or put a hold on it, known as a stay, until the legal process plays out in higher courts.

The Oregon Family Council is hoping the ban will remain in place.

"Everybody's had their opinion heard except for the majority of Oregon voters who passed Measure 36," said Shawn Lindsay, a lawyer hired by the Oregon Family Council.

Judge McShane heard arguments from people suing to throw out the ban, but he did not allow anyone to defend it.

Oregon's Attorney General, who would normally defend existing state laws being challenged in court and would have been permitted to defend the ban, declined to defend Measure 36, and no outside group or organization had the legal standing to step in instead.

Lindsay expects the case to ultimately reach the U.S. Supreme Court along with similar cases in other states and federal court districts challenging gay marriage bans.

Gay-rights supporters are planning for a victory even before the announcement.

Some groups are organizing rallies and social media campaigns to encourage gay couples to get married at 12:01pm Monday -- if that's what the judge allows.

Deborah and Betty say they'll wait.

"We want it to be tangible," said Betty. "We want to plan."