Same-sex marriage progress in Oregon
As 2014 begins, 17 states now legally allow same-sex marriages, including Washington and California. Nine of the 17 states began allowing same-sex marriage in 2013. Oregon still does not.
On Oct. 18, 2013, Oregon started recognizing marriages of same-sex couples from out of state. Oregon currently provides “broad domestic partnership” which, defined by the Society for Human Resource Management, “can be broadly defined as an unrelated and unmarried person who shares common living quarters with an employee and lives in a committed, intimate relationship that is not legally defined as marriage by the state in which the partners reside.”
“I think some progress is being made. Not quite as much as the media is making it out to be, since there are some problems which are, unfortunately, being ignored. But things appear to be moving forward,” said Alex Stein, a UO senior and office assistant for the UO Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans Queer Alliance.
According to a 2010 census conducted by the Williams Institute at UCLA, there were 11,773 same sex couples residing in Oregon, 61 percent female and 39 percent male. Of these couples, 2,002 were married and 9,771 were unmarried.
Though same-sex marriage is currently not recognized in Oregon, advocacy groups hope to put the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection Initiative on the November ballot. Oregon United for Marriage is currently collecting signatures in order to put the initiative on the ballot. “We need 116,284 signatures to qualify. We’ve collected more than that, 124,008, but not every signature is valid,” said Peter Zuckerman, who is in charge of press inquiries for Oregon United for Marriage. The signatures are due in July.
“A growing majority of Oregonians now support marriage for same-sex couples, and we are slated to vote to allow marriage for gay and lesbian couples in November,” Zuckerman said.
Despite the numbers, some students lack optimism toward the cause. “While marriage is a good thing to push for, the danger that people are falling into is seeing it as a solution to the whole problem, as opposed to one piece of the puzzle,” Stein said.
According to Colin Crader, statewide chair of Students United for Marriage, students have far from just stood aside in the push to legalize same-sex marriage.
“The University of Oregon had a team of coordinators and interns working very hard to collect signatures and building leaders in Eugene,” Crader said.
Zuckerman also emphasized the importance of student aid. “Students are going to be, and to some extent already are, leaders of the campaign to win the freedom to marry in Oregon,” he said.
On Jan. 1, Maryland‘s marriage equality law went into effect. In May, Delaware, Minnesota and Rhode Island passed marriage rights legislation. The Supreme Court voted down California’s Proposition 8 in June and in November Hawaii and Illinois passed freedom to marry. In December, the New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously voted for same-sex marriage.
“I do think things are slowly coming around, but striving to improve is always good,” Stein said.
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