PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Supporters of same sex marriage in Oregon waited 10 years for this day.
A federal judge based in Eugene on Monday struck down a voter-approved measure that defined marriage in the state as a union between one man and one woman.
The ruling touched off a wave of jubilation and tears among same-sex couples and a rush to county offices to get marriage licenses. In some cases, couples didn’t bother waiting for a weekend to get hitched. They figured a sunny Monday would do just fine.
Caroline Redstone and Dawn Jones pledged to stay together “in sickness and in health, until death do us part” at a Portland event hall.
“It’s amazing, all the community support!” Jones, 42, said right after she and Redstone, 38, were married at Melody Ballroom. The two women have been together for five years, have lived as domestic partners for four, and are expecting a baby this year. “We are part of history.”
County clerks across the state started issuing marriage licenses shortly after noon, when McShane’s ruling was announced. Multnomah County issued more than 70 before day’s end, according to Oregon United for Marriage.
Some couples in Portland lined up for their licenses more than four hours before McShane released his opinion.
Laurie Brown, who works in advertising, and attorney Julie Engbloom arrived at the county building a little before 8 a.m. The couple, who celebrated their 10-year anniversary last month, got married later in the day.
“We always knew we wanted to spend our whole life together,” said Brown. “This opportunity has come. It feels right. Everything has fallen into place.”
Kelly and Patty Reagan of Washington County took the day off to get married, taking along their kids 11-year-old Kaelan and 7-year-old Sophia. The couple has been together for nearly eight years.
“It’s important for our kids to be part of this,” Kelly Reagan said. “It’s the final validation for them; this is the official stamp.”
Added Patty Reagan: “It’s the final step to be truly a family. Everyone else takes for granted that they have this right.”
Oregon law has long prohibited same-sex marriage and McShane’s opinion came a decade after Oregon voters amended the state’s Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Four same-sex couples challenged the ban last year. In February, state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she would not defend the ban in court, citing last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down key parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Not everyone celebrated the ruling. The Oregon Catholic Conference issued a statement saying “authentic marriage remains what it has always and only been according to God’s design: the loving union between one man and one woman for the mutual benefit of the two who have become one flesh and any children born of their union.”
In Portland, Jeana Frazzini, executive director for Basic Rights Oregon, simply told the crowd gathered at the group’s headquarters: “We won!”
The tightly packed room of gay and lesbian couples and their supporters filled with cheers, fist pumps, and hugs.
One of the plaintiffs in the case, Chris Tanner, embraced her partner and wiped away tears as the decision was announced.
“I’m speechless,” she told the crowd. “I’ve anticipated this moment for at least 10 years. So I’m thrilled.”
McShane’s opinion was then read aloud to the audience by lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Misha Isaak.
“It’s a surreal, exciting moment, and not just for Oregon but for our nation,” said Ben West, while leaning on the shoulder of his long-time partner Paul Rummell. The two men, who were also plaintiffs in the case, and their 8-year-old son Jay then went to the county office to get their marriage license. They were married later that day.
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