Oregon voters in 2004 passed Measure 36, which banned same-sex marriage in the state. California voters inflicted similar wounds this month to gay couples in their state with Proposition 8.

And Saturday, Nov. 15, several hundred Portlanders gathered in the Park Blocks as part of a nationwide protest against Proposition 8, which is being challenged in California's Supreme Court by the American Civil Liberties Union and gay rights groups.

Many of the local demonstrators said they'd hoped California, which started allowing same-sex marriages in May 2008, would remain a nearby option if they wanted to go beyond the domestic partnerships in effect in Oregon.

In one example of the advantage of marriage over domestic partnership, domestic partners aren't entitled to Social Security survivor benefits, as are marital spouses.

Demonstrators Katie Boeh and Nicole Sangsuree-Barrett, both 28, are engaged and had planned to get married in California some time next year.

"It was really disappointing," Sangsuree-Barrett said of Prop 8. "I think straight people take marriage for granted. I've just accepted, since I started dating women, that I can't get married. Straight people, I don't think, realize that it's a choice [for them to get married]. For me, I don't have that option."

At least not anymore in California, where 52 percent of voters approved Prop 8 in the Nov. 4 election.

To Boeh, that's the most upsetting part.

"The most unfortunate thing is the flip-flopping," Boeh said. "Granting rights and taking them away, it really leaves folks hopeless and gives people no sense of stability."

Among the speakers at the nearly four-hour protest was Mayor-elect Sam Adams, whose turn at the megaphone sparked a roar from the crowd and a chant of "Yes we can!"

"They said this ban is about marriage," Adams yelled. "But it's really about respect!"

See a slide show of the protest below:


In 2007, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 1000, which allowed domestic partnerships in the state.