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'It's real!'

Supporters of same-sex marriage celebrate end of state prohibition
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The Rev. Leslie Becknell Marx, center, celebrates Monday with Southern Oregon Pride President Gina DuQuenne, right, and DuQuenne's partner, Josh Willow, on the Ashland Plaza. (Correction: The minister's name has been corrected.)Larry Stauth
 Posted: 2:00 AM May 20, 2014

With a shout of, "It's real!" from Gina DuQuenne shortly after noon, 100 supporters of same-sex marriage turned Ashland's Plaza into a carnival of hugs, hoots and happiness.

The federal court ruling, released at noon, strikes down Oregon's voter-approved ban on gay marriage from 2004, allowing DuQuenne and her female fiancee, Josh Willow, to get a marriage license at the Jackson County Courthouse within hours.

"Amen!" shouted DuQuenne, the president of Southern Oregon Pride. "Now we have what they have."

"I'm overwhelmed, relieved, happy and very excited to get married after 15 years together," Willow said.

Their ceremony will be performed by the Rev. Leslie Becknell Marx, a Unitarian-Universalist minister, who said, "What a beautiful day! Love wins! Now I can practice my religious freedoms and marry all couples who want that sacred blessing."

Becknell Marx wore her vestments and signs proclaiming that she and many other ministers stood ready to perform marriages for people with valid licenses.

The Rev. Pam Shepherd, of Ashland's First Congregational United Church of Christ, has performed weddings for gay couples for years but refused to sign the documents as long as anyone was prohibited from legally getting married. Now she and five other ministers at her church will sign them.

"I feel grateful beyond belief," said Shepherd. "I never thought I'd live to see this day. I'm proud to be an Oregonian now."

State Rep. Peter Buckley of Ashland, a longtime supporter of the movement for same-sex marriage, said, "This is fantastic. It's great for our state and the whole community. The Supreme Court decision last year was the linchpin. It rights a great wrong in our laws. It was the missing piece in Oregon's image as a progressive state."

Buckley said he thought a proposed measure legalizing same-sex marriage would have won this November, but now signatures will not have to be submitted to put it on the ballot, he added.

What changed in Oregon from a decade ago, when voters banned gay marriage, Shepherd said, is that "Gays and lesbians came out and told the truth about our lives and people realized they already knew gays. People saw that love is love."

"We waited 10 years for this decision and it's way past time for the reality of it," said Julian Spalding, board president of Lotus Rising.

He and his longtime partner, Terry Brown, planned to get their marriage license immediately.

"I'm exhilarated that justice is being honored," said Brown. "As the saying goes, justice always comes down on the side of history. We're no longer treated as second-class citizens. I teared up when it was announced. I'm just kind of numb now."

"There's such joy now that all our brothers and sisters have marriage equality in Oregon and can marry in love, just like all the rest of us," said Deborah Rothschild, a former board member of SOPride.

"So many out-of-staters were surprised to hear same-sex marriage was banned in Oregon," said Rebecca Reid. "I'm just so relieved now."

Former SOPride co-chairman Eduardo Placer, an Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor, said, "It's wonderful news, like love wins. It shows all is possible in love. ... It makes one feel very welcome and shows we are really cared for and have all that possibility now."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.



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