Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Oregon's Crusaders: Mayors Weren't the Only Ones to Bring Hope and Joy to the Lives of Thousands of Gay Couples This Year. Several County Commissioners in Portland Are Also Being Called Heroes

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Oregon's Crusaders: Mayors Weren't the Only Ones to Bring Hope and Joy to the Lives of Thousands of Gay Couples This Year. Several County Commissioners in Portland Are Also Being Called Heroes

Article excerpt

The same day that San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom ordered city officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples last February, Roey Thorpe was on a conference call with other gay rights leaders discussing efforts to make the same thing happen in Portland, Ore. But it wasn't because of Newsom, she says. In light of the Massachusetts high court decision allowing same-sex marriage last year, Thorpe's group, Basic Rights Oregon, had been lobbying local county commissioners for months.

"We asked the commissioners to seek a legal opinion on the question of it being unconstitutional to deny marriage to same-sex couples [in Oregon]," Thorpe says. When Newsom began his marriage crusade, the Multnomah County officials watched with great interest, she says. But it was a pro-gay-marriage opinion from county attorney Agnes Sowle that caused them to act.

Risking their political careers, Diane Linn, Maria Rojo de Steffey, Serena Cruz, and Lisa Naito--four of the county's five commissioners, and all straight--ordered county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples on March 3. …

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