Vigils planned today for marriage equality in Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. -- On the eve of the federal hearing in Oregon’s marriage equality lawsuits, hundreds of Oregonians from across the state plan to mark the progress toward gaining the freedom to marry with a series of vigils in seven cities, from Portland to Pendleton.

Hundreds of Oregonians — young and old, Republican and Democrat, from the coast to the high desert — will come together to celebrate the long road toward marriage equality in Oregon. Together, they’ll send a powerful message: Oregon is ready for marriage.

The vigil is happening on the same day the anti-gay hate group National Organization for Marriage — which opposes marriage for same-sex couples— filed a motion to intervene in the case, as well as a motion to postpone tomorrow’s hearing. In a ruling on Tuesday afternoon, Judge Michael McShane denied the motion to postpone, and set a hearing on the motion to intervene for May 14.

If intervention is allowed, the court will schedule a second briefing schedule on summary judgement or the court will set the matter for trial, according to Judge McShane’s ruling. Tomorrow’s hearing is still scheduled for 1:30 pm in Eugene.

Except where noted, the vigils will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 pm local time at these locations:

• Portland: Terry Schrunk Plaza, SW 3rd Avenue and Madison Street
• Eugene: Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse, 405 E. Eighth Ave.
• Bend: Peace Corner, 1033 NW Wall St. (gather at 4:30 pm)
• Medford: Jackson County Courthouse, 10 S. Oakdale Ave.
• Pendleton: Roy Raley Park, 1205 SW Court Ave.
• Hood River: Overlook Memorial Park, 2nd Street and State Street
• Newport: Nana’s Irish Pub, 613 NW Third Ave. (gather at 6:30 pm)

“NOM never has and never will speak for Oregon. In Oregon, we believe in freedom — we believe in treating our neighbors with respect,” said Mike Marshall, campaign manager for Oregon United for Marriage. “A strong majority of Oregonians believe it’s time for all loving couples to have the freedom to marry in our state, and tonight we’ll gather across the state to show that support.”

At tonight’s vigils, speakers will include committed couples who will be directly impacted by the court ruling, along with community, business, and faith leaders. Representatives of Oregon United for Marriage, Basic Rights Oregon, and the ACLU of Oregon — co-hosts of the vigils — will also speak, and will address the recent court developments.

“This is an amazing time in Oregon’s history, and in the nationwide movement for the freedom to marry,” said Jeana Frazzini, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon. “In this historic moment, we want to stand with the supporters who have made it all possible—to witness and affirm our commitment to ensuring that all loving and committed couples should have access to marriage.”

“The opponents of marriage are making a last-ditch effort to justify discrimination and stand in the way of the inevitable progress against that discrimination,” said David Fidanque, executive director of the ACLU of Oregon. “Treating people differently just because of who they are and who they love is wrong and the time for that kind of discrimination has passed.”

The federal court cases, Rummell v. Kitzhaberand Geiger v. Kitzhaber, were filed late last year. Staff attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Oregon, and volunteer counsel Misha Isaak and Tom Johnson of Perkins Coie, LLP, and Jennifer Middleton of Johnson, Johnson & Schaller, PC, filed the Rummell case in December in U.S. District Court in Eugene on behalf of two same-sex couples who wish to marry in Oregon and Basic Rights Education Fund. In January, the judge consolidated the case with the Geiger case that was filed in October on behalf of two additional couples by Portland attorneys Lake Perriguey and Lea Ann Easton.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced in February that Measure 36 is indefensible. “Sexual orientation does not determine an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and enduring relationship,” Attorney General Rosenblum wrote in a brief filed with the court. “The ban cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review.”

Similar marriage equality cases are making their way through courts all around the country. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Windsor decision last year, every federal judge who has ruled on a marriage case has ruled in favor of marriage equality.

A report issued this month by The Williams Institute estimates that allowing same-sex couples to marry would boost Oregon’s economy by $47.3 million over the course of the first three years, with $30.3 million in the first year alone. The analysis also predicts that wedding-related spending and tourism would generate more than 450 new jobs throughout the state.

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