Make Marriage Equality Your Valentine with Oregon United for Marriage

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Oregon Episcopal Church Bishop the retired Rev. Dr. Michael Hanley signs a sponsorship petition for a marriage equality initiative. Photo via Oregon United for Marriage. Oregon Episcopal Church Bishop the retired Rev. Dr. Michael Hanley signs a sponsorship petition for a marriage equality initiative. Photo via Oregon United for Marriage.
 
By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly
Maybe you've been engaged (literally and/or figuratively) for a while now, but Oregon United for Marriage (OU4M) wants you to make it official this Valentine's Day by signing the marriage equality initiative petition at one of 14 events across the state. Today, OU4M will begin gathering the first round of sponsorship signatures for a ballot initiative aimed at overturning Oregon's 2004 constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in November 2014. Events will take place in Portland, Eugene, Salem, Bend, Medford, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, Lincoln City, Astoria, Tillamook, Corvallis, and Pendleton. The day starts off at 9:30 a.m. with a Faith Leaders for the Freedom to Marry breakfast event will take place in Beaverton. Participating in the program are Rev. Michelle Manicke, Rev. Bill Sinkford, Rev. Tara Wilkins, and other guest speakers. "As religious leaders, we stand in solidarity with Oregon United for Marriage," says Rev. Wilkins, pastor of Bridgeport United Church of Christ and executive director of the Community of Welcoming Congregations, in a release. "Many of our religious traditions support the freedom to marry, and we believe the time is now to make it legal for gay and lesbian couples to marry in Oregon." The Portland event begins at 3 p.m. sharp at Hotel Monaco (Alder Creek Banquet Room) and features opening remarks from Governor John Kitzhaber and former Governor Barbara Roberts. Other guests will include Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen and Multnomah County Commissioners, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Portland City Council members, Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Brad Avakian and State Treasurer Tedd Wheeler. In Salem, Speaker of the House, Rep. Tina Kotek and Sen. Diane Rosenbaum will speak at an event at Willamette University from 4-6 p.m. while Mayor Kitty Piercy speaks at an event at Eugene's Temple Beth Israel and Mayor Jim Clinton speaks at an event at the Bend Environmental Center. Basic Rights Oregon -- the organization behind Oregon United for Marriage -- will also host two Open House event on Saturday and Sunday. Jeana Frazzini, BRO's executive director and chief petitioner for the marriage equality initiative, encourage LGBTQ folks to bring their friends and family members to today's events, not just to show their support but because marriage equality affects them too. "It’s important for families and straight members of the community," Frazzini says. "When people have opportunities to protect and care for their families in contributes to the betterment of the community as a whole."