Oregonians Still Border-Hopping to Get Hitched: Will Our State Ever Evolve?

holdinghandsIn last week’s Corvallis Advocate, you read about what’s still on everyone’s minds: the Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and California’s Proposition 8. The fight for marriage equality steamrolls ahead in the national theater, while Oregon continues to lag behind other “progressive’ states” such as Washington. This discrepancy impacted two local women directly: Lauren Ohlgren and Virginia Stockwell.

The two women met back in 2005 in Jubilate! The Women’s Choir of Corvallis, a moment which they described as “the romantic story of first soprano meets second alto.” Lauren is an artist and Virginia currently works as a plant pathologist at OSU.

A few months back, the two women, unhappy with Oregon’s restrictions on same-sex marriages, decided to make the journey up to Washington to have their union officially recognized. “I didn’t know what I wanted until I had it,” said Virginia, referring to the idea of a legal marriage. “I never thought I would be able to be ‘honestly’ married.”

Lauren said the trip up to Washington was “business-focused-mechanical.” The couple was nervous because they didn’t have any connections in the area and actually had a close friend register online to become a minister in order to conduct the ceremony. Lauren said they weren’t sure if the winery where they wanted to host the ceremony was going to be safe and accepting, but she said that once things got underway the tension started to lift: “Our ceremony was the moment we actually started to let our shoulders down and feel, connect to what this meant to us. It was everything we wanted: home-grown, touching, emotional, heart-felt.”

The couple is enjoying their happy, legal marriage—”We giggled every time we reflected on it for at least a month,” said Lauren—and hopeful for the next voting cycle here in the state. “We think the culture of Oregon is changing,” said Lauren, “and especially with DOMA down, we think this next voting cycle will be our time.”

And perhaps it will be, although in the meantime, many hopeful Oregonian couples either wait or continue to cross the border in search of true equality.

Support gay marriage in Oregon? You can help! Visit www.oregonunitedformarriage.org for details.

By Stuart White