- Associated Press - Sunday, June 8, 2014

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Alison Shiboski and Dorothy Dilliplane are hoping this is the last time they will need to marry - and if the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal on Wednesday to halt same-sex marriages in Oregon is any indication, the third time might indeed be the charm.

The Eugene couple, who officially tied the knot in what was their third ceremony on Wednesday afternoon, represent part of the boom in marriage licenses that Lane County has issued in the weeks since U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane’s May 19 ruling striking down the statewide ban on same-sex marriage.

In May, Lane County issued 266 marriage licenses - 70 of which were issued to same-sex couples starting on May 19. On average, the eight licenses that were issued per business day before McShane’s ruling more than doubled to nearly 19 per business day afterward.

The 70 licenses issued to same-sex couples since May 19 represent 41 percent of the 169 licenses issued by the county between May 19 and May 31.

The county’s Deeds and Records office is accustomed to seeing people in a good mood when they come in for a marriage license.

“With 266 marriage licenses (in just one month), that’s a very happy time for a lot of people,” county spokesman Trevor Steele said Wednesday.

Shiboski and Dilliplane secured their license on May 27 - and chose Wednesday as their wedding day without knowing that that also would be the day that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to contradict McShane’s ruling.

Their outdoor afternoon ceremony marked the third time that the two, who have been together since 1990, have exchanged vows.

The couple first held a formal, but not staterecognized, ceremony with friends and family in Oregon in 1998. Then, in March 2004, the two were married in Multnomah County after that county began issuing licenses.

However, in November of that year, Oregonians voted to pass Ballot Measure 36, which defined marriage as between heterosexual couples only. Then, in April 2005, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that Multnomah County didn’t have the authority to issue the marriage licenses. The decision voided all same-sex marriage licenses issued - just over 3,000 - including Shiboski and Dilliplane’s.

In 2008, a new state law granted marriage-type benefits, but not marriage, to gay couples, who instead could register as domestic partners. But Shiboski and Dilliplane chose not to, saying they saw little benefit in doing so.

Because of uncertainty about whether there would be a U.S. Supreme Court stay on marriages, the couple decided to tie the knot sooner rather than later. Their ceremony was small and informal - just six close friends attended the marriage, which took place in Maurie Jacobs Park, around a bench near the Greenway Bicycle Bridge.

The spot held special significance for those gathered because the bench was a memorial to Marcia Macdonald, a close friend who attended the couple’s previous two marriages. She died in 2010.

“She was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of friend,” Shiboski said.

When the news of the high court’s rejection of the stay appeal broke before their ceremony, the couple felt relieved.

“I just thought, wow, finally, this group (National Organization for Marriage) that thinks they need to oppose this is stopped and hopefully that’s where it will stay,” Dilliplane said.

The two were married by longtime friend and Eugene Municipal Court Judge Karen Stenard. Stenard said she has married only a handful of people and that this was her first same-sex marriage.

“I’m really honored to do this because I love you guys but also because this is such an important thing,” Stenard said at the ceremony.

After the couple exchanged vows, the small group in attendance toasted with champagne.

“If there can’t be a Eugene Celebration, we’ll give the city something to celebrate,” joked a grinning Dilliplane, referring to this week’s news that the traditional city celebration has been scrubbed for 2014.

County spokesman Steele said the timing of McShane’s May 19 ruling also posed an unexpected challenge to the county - the same department that handles marriage certificates also oversees elections, including last month’s primary election that took place the following day.

“The county clerk’s office was very busy for the next (few) days,” Steele said.

In Florence, another longtime couple was able to tie the knot as a result of McShane’s ruling, but for Jennifer French and Sally Wantz, it was the first time. They picked up their license in Eugene on May 21.

“I was happy to see it in my lifetime,” French said. “I’m 63. I’ve been an activist (about) this for probably 20, 25 years.”

Coincidentally, the two had originally made plans to travel to Northern California to be wed by a Unitarian Universalist minister on May 29.

“We had planned it for a couple months,” French said. “Then all of a sudden, this got approved on May 19. We looked at each other and said, ‘Well, why can’t we do it here?’ We had a spontaneous wedding in about five days.”

The two were married at the Florence Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, where they say there was “standing room only” on Sunday, May 25.

“My love is just as important as anybody else’s and now it’s recognized,” French said. “There’s a new sense of self-respect that comes with all of this.”


Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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