May 19th, 2014 | by KATE WILLSON News | Posted In: Activism, Gay Rights, Cops and Courts, Politics, Religion, PDX News

"We Do!": Same-Sex Couples Begin Marrying in Multnomah County

marriage07Janine Nelson, left, and Deanna Geiger, right, were married at the Multnomah County on May 19. - Kathleen Marie

Dozens of couples began receiving marriage licenses at the Multnomah County building today, minutes after U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane overturned the Oregon ban on same-sex marriage.

People gathered outside the county building began weeping and cheering as news broke of McShane's decision, shortly after noon. Cars honked in support.

Pedicabs waited along Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard to drive couples to the nearby Melody Ballroom, where Oregon United for Marriage is performing weddings.

Chrystal Bell and Lori Hays were among the couples waiting in line at the county building.

They've been together 13 years after meeting at a bus stop on Northeast Sandy Boulevard and bonding over women's basketball. They have two children.

"We want to carry on our lives," Bell said today. "It means something. It matters. We wanted to get married in our home state. "

Also there to celebrate: Portland lawyer Lake Perriguey, who filed the lawsuit that overturned the ban, despite pressure from gay-rights groups who wanted to gain marriage equality via the ballot. 

He said civil rights were too fundamental to be left to public opinion.

"I'm elated," Perriguey said. "It's the last law in Oregon that creates inequality. Civil rights should never be voted on in Oregon."

Two of the Multnomah County commissioners who began unilaterally issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004, Maria Rojo de Steffey and Lisa Naito, were also on hand today.

"I knew over time that this was going to happen," Rojo de Steffey said. "It feels the same: So happy, so proud."

Michelle Abraham brought her children Miles, 5, and Ellie, 2, to the Multnomah County building. The small children handed out roses to the couples emerging with marriage licenses.

"We just came out in support," Abraham said. "We're so proud of our state."

 
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