Oregon Becomes 18th State to Legalize Same-Gender Marriage

By Daniel Borgen, PQ Monthly

IMG_1396Monday, May 19. Mid-morning. NOM files an appeal with the Ninth Circuit, requesting a stay on today’s ruling. “The National Organization for Marriage, Inc. (“NOM”) has filed an appeal of the denial of its motion to intervene. On Friday, May 16, 2014, the district court entered an order stating that it would issue a decision on the pending motions for summary judgment on Monday, May 19, 2014, at noon. NOM has moved in this Court for a stay of proceedings in the district court. Plaintiffs will file full briefing in opposition to that motion. With this short submission, Plaintiffs request that this Court not issue a temporary stay of proceedings during the pendency of NOM’s motion for stay. A temporary stay of proceedings is unwarranted. The present appeal and stay motion were initiated by a non-party, which seeks review, not of the district court’s forthcoming merits decision, but of the denial of its motion to intervene. In this case, it is clear that there will be no appeal with a potential to alter the judgment.”

IMG_1365Monday, mid-morning. Viewing parties are organized and held throughout the city, including at Crush (hosted by PQ Monthly and Woody Clark) and Oregon United for Marriage Campaign headquarters. Queers are glued to their television screens. The Ninth Circuit turns NOM back. Hit the road, NOM.

Monday, noon. “It’s a win!” After more than 30 years, countless discrimination measures, the Oregon Citizens Alliance, and more activism than you can shake a stick at, the ruling’s in: Same-sex marriage is legal in Oregon. A last ditch effort to stay the ruling was turned back by the Ninth Circuit. Tears, beaming crowds, hugs and embraces. We’re headed to the Melody Ballroom to celebrate — and watch the first couples marry.

IMG_1307Monday, 12:30. From McShane’s ruling: “Generations of Americans, my own included, were raised in a world in which homosexuality was believed to be a moral perversion, a mental disorder, or a mortal sin. I remember that one of the more popular playground games of my childhood was called ‘smear the queer’ and it was played with great zeal and without a moment’s thought to political correctness. On a darker level, that same worldview led to an environment of cruelty, violence, and self-loathing. It was but 1986 when the United States Supreme Court justified, on the basis of a ‘millennia of moral teaching,’ the imprisonment of gay men and lesbian women who engaged in consensual sexual acts. […] Even today I am reminded of the legacy that we have bequeathed today’s generation when my son looks dismissively at the sweater I bought him for Christmas and, with a roll of his eyes, says ‘dad … that is so gay.’” We’re poring over the ruling. We can’t stop hugging each other. This is huge.

IMG_1493Monday, 1pm: It seems like half the city’s LGBTQ community is at the Melody Ballroom, marrying and celebrating. Upstairs in the chapel, couple after couple marries, then head downstairs to mix and mingle. Kudos to Samantha Swaim and Co. for pulling off an extraordinary impromptu party.

Monday, 3pm: Couples begin streaming downstairs, each one announces to a cheering, joyful crowd. They kiss, they embrace. This is love. Marriage equality is about love. “But just as the Constitution protects the expression of these moral viewpoints, it equally protects the minority from being diminished by them,” McShane writes.

IMG_1474Monday, 4pm: The county commissioners who had the vision to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004. “Given time, I am confident attitudes will shift,” Lisa Naito wrote in 2004. They paid the highest price. They (from left: Serena Cruz Walsh, Diane Linn, former BRO head Roey Thorpe, Maria Rojo de Steffey, and Lisa Naito) join Monday’s celebration. “I believe that if we can look for a moment past gender and sexuality, we can see in these plaintiffs nothing more or less than our own families,” McShane writes. “Families who we would expect our Constitution to protect, if not exalt, in equal measure. With discernment we see not shadows lurking in closets or the stereotypes of what was once believed; rather we see families committed to the common purpose of love, devotion, and service to the greater community. Where will this all lead? I know that many suggest we are going down a slippery slope that will have no moral boundaries. To those who truly harbor such fears, I can only say this: Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other…and rise.” From the bottom of our big gay hearts: Thank you, Judge Michael McShane, for being on the right side of history. And thank you to every leader, activist, and volunteer who worked so tirelessly for so long, who paved the way for 2014. And now, onward!

IMG_1454Here are a couple of additional facts, courtesy Lake Perriguey, now that the US Supreme Court has kicked the Supreme Wedding Crashers National Organization for Marriage Discrimination to the curb: Oregon is the first state with a federal decision that has not been stayed. Oregon is also the first state with a federal decision for marriage equality in which gay and lesbians can continue to marry since the California case.

–Daniel Borgen