Same-Sex Couples Begin to Marry in Oregon

By Lauren Fogelstrom

Catlin Gabel School, Catlin Speak

Shortly after noon yesterday, when U.S. District Judge Michael McShane overturned the ban on same-sex marriage in Oregon, the Melody Ballroom filled with enthusiastic couples preparing for their wedding ceremonies. Among these excited faces were several people willing to share their stories and opinions on the significant change in Oregon’s law.

Caroline and Don Jones-Redstone, a couple of five years, waited in line yesterday in anticipation of the announcement. Just after noon their patience was rewarded with a marriage license and the couple proceeded to their wedding ceremony at the Melody Ballroom. Don told CatlinSpeak her first reaction was one of “pure excitement and joy.”

The timing of the ruling could not have been better for the couple. They recently learned that Caroline is pregnant with their first child.

Caroline explained, “So now theres this trend called a “baby moon”, which is like a big last hurrah or big trip before the baby is born, but now it also gets to be our honeymoon!”

Other happy couples included Andrew Wallace and Ken Brashier, who had already been together for 25 years prior to yesterdays official marriage. Ken commented that, “After 25 years we don’t want to have really big celebration because it seemed to undervalue the previous 25 years for some reason, so we just wanted something quick and simple, and now…we’re married!”

And even though many of the ceremonies seemed spontaneous, some couples were still able to have family members and friends attend.

Helen White and Jane Paulson, a couple of nearly 17 years, pulled their 10-year-old son Grady out of school to serve as their ring bearer. Grady told CatlinSpeak he heard the news after he was called to the principal’s office. He knew what the importance of the day meant to his parents, “I was just standing there trying to keep a straight face because my mom could barely say the words…I was really excited for them.”

City and county officials also shared in celebrating Oregon’s victory for same-sex couples. Multnomah County Chair Marissa Madrigal began her day at the county courthouse but said she, “wanted to be a part of [the celebration] and contribute in as many ways as I could,” so she headed down to the Melody Ballroom to officiate over some marriage ceremonies.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales also made an appearance by officiating his first two marriages for two same-sex couples. He became credentialed for officiating in anticipation of McShane’s ruling.

“I’m just six feet off the floor with a big grin on my face because we’ve all waited for this day for a long time… My heart is full of joy just seeing the joy on [these couples] faces,” Hales told CatlinSpeak.

While this news is a positive step for same-sex couples in Oregon, the remaining struggle for equality hasn’t been forgotten. As Don explained, “There’s this inner personal level where we feel joy to be acknowledged by the state, but there’s also this much larger struggle.” However, she agreed that, “This [victory] is a small step, which is inevitable, but still it feels like a really big deal.”

Technically speaking, the differences between domestic partnership and marriage and their connotations are wide ranging. “Everything from insurance to property to benefits that come with employment, it just makes it so much easier, and makes your spouses status so much clearer,” said Hales.

Before the gay marriage law was overturned many tasks, such as filing taxes, were more complicated for same-sex partners.

Overall, the results in Portland of McShane’s ruling seem extremely joyous and positive. As Madrigal stated, “It’s time to end discrimination in Oregon and [the overturned law] is absolutely the right thing. We shouldn’t have any second class citizens. Love is love.”

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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