On heels of court ruling, advocates hope for gay marriage in Ore.
PORTLAND, Ore. - Same-sex couples across Oregon on Wednesday relished in victory after the U.S. Supreme Court's historic rulings even though they didn't have any legal affect in the state.
Gay marriage supporters gathered for a rally at Terry Schrunk Plaza. They sang, they hugged, and they kissed.
Bob Powers and Donald Clement practically had a Disney-movie romance. They worked at the same place but never met until a friend convinced Clement to go to an office get-together at Powers' house. Ten years later a marriage proposal in a valentine and the two were wed in Canada.
The couple says it's important for Oregon to take advantage of the Supreme Court's ruling, which gave married same-sex couples equal federal status with married heterosexuals, for the sake of love.
"And I can tell you when Donald and I stood up in front of our family and friends among people we loved and spoke of our love, it was so different from getting a domestic partnership here in Portland," Powers said. "Nobody's ever grown up - never dreamed of becoming a domestic partner. It's a financial agreement. It has nothing to do with love."
The couple was glued to their TV with their grandson, Brady, when the court announced its decisions.
The couple says next year Oregon will be the first state to strike down a gay marriage ban. Gay marriage advocates have already said they will make a push to add a ballot measure in Oregon in 2014 to legalize marriage for everyone.
"We're more committed than ever," said Jeana Frazzini, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon during a news conference. "We're more energized and excited than ever that Oregon truly is coming together like so many places across this country to affirm the freedom to marry for all."
A 2004 ballot measure bans same-sex marriage in the state despite near-uniform opposition from the state's highest quarters. Nearly a decade after the vote to approve the ban passed with 57 percent of the vote, Oregon could be the first state to test the impact of the Supreme Court decision on its electorate.
Basic Rights Oregon and the American Civil Liberties Union are confident they'll get enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot next year.
It wasn't so long ago that Oregon appeared to lead the charge to legalize gay marriage. So what happened?
"It's a little bit of a mix of what's happening in the state politically," said Maura Kelly, a Portland State University sociology professor. "It does have a little bit to do with how well marriage-equality rights activists are organizing."
It's sort of a perfect storm of circumstances that has stopped Oregon from embracing gay marriage. But that storm appears to be subsiding and Powers and Clement can't wait to see the rainbow on the other side.
"I want to be married like everyone else is married in the United States," Clement said.
Basic Rights Oregon says for the first time ever its polls suggest a majority of Oregonians are ready to repeal the state's ban on gay marriage.
But opponents of gay marriage are also gearing up for a fight.
"The Court's decision to strike down DOMA sends a wrong message in our opinion," the Oregon Family Council said in a statement Wednesday. "It appears Oregonians will have another chance to continue this discussion in 2014."
Multnomah County Republican Party chair Jeff Reynolds said he communicates with both the Oregon Family Council and the Log Cabin Republicans, the group representing gay Republicans. He said the Oregon Republican platform is consistent defining marriage as being between one man and one woman and "our platform does not change on the winds of public polling."
But the platform itself has been moderated in its most recent iteration. Language that was construed by some members of the party as anti-gay was stripped out after a contentious state party convention in Bend in 2011.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.