Same-Sex Initiative Campaign Launched

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EUGENE, Ore. — Celebrating love is what Valentine’s Day is all about, and that’s why a number of same-sex couples in Lane County used the holiday to start a campaign that ultimately ends with their love being recognized as a legal marriage.

After Washington State approved the right for same-sex couples to marry, Oregonians feel like they aren’t far behind. Oregon United for Marriage chose 14 locations across the state Thursday, including Eugene, to collect signatures to gain marriage equality.

Nicole and Victoria Smithweiland are celebrating many committed years as a couple this Valentine’s Day, but they aren’t together in the way they’ve always hoped for.

“For us, nothing says we’re family like marriage. We’ve tried other things in Oregon. We’ve tried domestic partnership. It just doesn’t work because people don’t always know what that is,” they said.

So that’s why this holiday is not just about exchanging gifts and sweets. The two are joining other gay rights activists, coalitions and even Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy to change the Oregon constitution.

With language that would say marriage isn’t just between a man and a woman, it’s a same-sex initiative that Oregon United for Marriage is working to get on the November 2014 ballot.

“We are looking to do it at a major election even though it is an off season election,” said Kathy Formella, Basic Rights Oregon Organizer. “It gives us 21 months to collect 130,000 signatures.”

That’s the amount of signatures needed to put this initiative up for a vote and maybe eventually give Nicole and Victoria a Valentine’s Day to look forward to together as a married couple.

Activists say this new law wouldn’t require all religious communities to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies if they don’t support it, but a same-sex marriage would be recognized by the state.

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