After issuing 3,000 marriage licenses last year, the Oregon Supreme Court has made the decision to nullify the legality of the unions. This ruling has far-reaching effects for many gay and lesbian couples in Oregon.
“I feel a little bit let down by the system,” said Dr. Steve Knox, whose marriage license was one of the 3,000 to be invalidated. “We’re disappointed and kind of taken aback.”
Same-sex couples such as Floyd Sklaver and Mark Acito, who have been in a committed relationship for 19 years, said they feel as though an injustice has been served.
“Right now, we don’t have any of the rights and responsibilities accrued to heterosexuals. We’re being treated like second-class citizens,” Sklaver said.
Not only are couples being affected by this decision, many families centered on same-sex relationships believe the state is questioning their validity. Children in gay and lesbian households also have been touched by the decision.
Sandra Naranjo and her partner adopted their 10-year-old daughter as an infant.
“My first thought was my daughter,” Naranjo said. “She was at school and I didn’t want her to find out from anyone else, so I called her school and talked to her.”
Naranjo and her partner have been together for 10 years, but their marriage is no longer legal.
“We’ve been married for 10 years, and we’re going to be married for 10 more,” she said.
This attitude toward the ruling is echoed throughout the same-sex community in Oregon. Despite the court’s decision, many gay and lesbian couples do not feel their relationships have changed.
“Our daily life will stay the same,” Knox said.
Sklaver expressed a similar opinion.
“The fact that the weddings were invalidated doesn’t invalidate our relationship of 19 years, or my love for my spouse.”
The feeling of disappointment and sorrow is evident, but many gay and lesbian couples still believe they will triumph in their pursuit of marriage rights.
Sklaver made it clear that the fight for legal same-sex marriages is not over, despite the Oregon Supreme Court ruling. “Ultimately, we will prevail,” he said.
“For today, we’ll just be sad and mourn, not the loss of marriage, because you can’t take that away, but the injustice done,” said Naranjo, who, along with her partner, is involved in challenging the outcome of Measure 36.