EUGENE, Ore. — People on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue are closely watching what happens in Eugene.
Those supporting same-sex marriage say the current ban creates inequalities, and they hope the state can come together and unite behind same-sex couples. But members of a national organization says they’re countering this suit because they say marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
Ben West and Paul Rummell, who have been together for eight years. They had a commitment ceremony in 2010. They say they’re just like any other couple in the state.
“It looked legal. It sure did. It felt legal, but it wasn’t legal. It cost as much,” West said.
But they’re trying to change that, along with two other couples filing suit against the state of Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage.
“It’s affirming as an individual to know that your union is legitimate and secure,” West said.
But a national group is filing a suit against lifting the ban because they believe a marriage should be between a man and a woman.
“Because it takes a man and a woman to produce a baby, and the reason society across human history has developed the institution of marriage is to provide a safe environment for the children and the offspring of that man and woman,” said John Eastman, National Organization for Marriage.
But in Oregon, it’s legal for same-sex couples to adopt.
“The state of Oregon gives us the legal right to adopt, but we don’t have a lot of the same protections that traditional married couples have, so it creates inequalities,” Rummell said.
But the National Organization for Marriage says that doesn’t matter.
“The biological complementary of the sexes has always been at the core of the institution of marriage, and when you weaken that, when you say that’s irrelevant, when you say that the institution is more about relationship between two adults, we believe that it’s necessarily going to undermine the benefits of society,” Eastman said.
So in the next month, as a judge hears both sides of the argument, those on each side of the fence are hoping their voices are heard.
“It will weaken the institutional bonds that marriage has always provided,” Eastman said.
“I could go to Vancouver across the river, pop over to the courthouse and get married. So my marriage is legally defined by the Columbia River,” West said.
Basic Rights Oregon says if the judge lifted the ban, it would allow for 7,000-8,000 same-sex couples in the state to marry. The judge will hear the National Organization of Marriage’s case on May 14.