U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball said the stay put the couples in an unacceptable legal limbo regarding adoptions, child care and custody, medical decisions and inheritance. But he put a 21-day hold on his ruling to allow the state a chance to appeal.
The Oregon decision marks the 13th legal victory for gay marriage advocates since the Supreme Court last year overturned part of a federal ban. Here's a closer look at where things stand across the country:
HOW MANY STATES ALLOW SAME-SEX MARRIAGE?
Gay and lesbian couples can legally marry in 17 states and the District of Columbia. The two most recent states to make the unions legal were New Mexico and Hawaii, both of which did so in late 2013. Oregon's ruling is not expected to be challenged, which would make it the 18th state where gay marriage is legal.
IS GAY MARRIAGE GETTING CLOSE TO BECOMING LEGAL IN OTHER STATES?
In 11 states, federal or state judges recently have overturned same-sex marriage bans or ordered states to recognize out-of-state marriages. Appeals courts are reviewing those decisions. Ten are in the hands of federal appeals courts, and one is with a state appeals court.
WHERE HAVE OTHER PRO-GAY MARRIAGE RULINGS COME DOWN?
They've been all over the country. Federal or state judges in Idaho, Oklahoma, Virginia, Michigan, Texas, Utah and Arkansas recently have found state same-sex marriage bans to be unconstitutional. Judges also have ordered Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Indiana to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. The New Mexico Supreme Court declared the state ban unconstitutional in a ruling that is not being challenged.
IS OREGON'S ATTORNEY GENERAL THE ONLY ONE NOT DEFENDING A STATE BAN?
No. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is one of seven top state prosecutors who have refused to defend same-sex marriage bans in court. Attorney generals in Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Nevada and Kentucky, all Democrats, have made the same decision. Virginia and Kentucky still appealed rulings. A county clerk who was sued in Virginia is fighting that ban, and Kentucky hired outside attorneys.