Gay Couples in Oregon Flocking Across Border to Washington State to Legally Marry

With Oregon now recognizing all legal out-of-state marriages, gay couples there have been flocking to neighboring Washington state for their nuptials. The Columbian reports:

Washington signBizarre or just businesslike, the new legal loophole amounts to a bistate bridge that's carrying loads of same-sex couples across the border from hoping to hitched. Clark County marriage license applications jumped by nearly 50 percent in the 12 business days after Oregon's Oct. 18 legal decision, according to a hand count by The Columbian. Two-thirds of all licenses after that day were for same-sex couples and 90 percent of those were from out of state — the vast majority from Oregon. 

The Columbian reports that many of these couples are holding their wedding ceremony at a Clark County church that has made a name for itself as a gay wedding destination for out-of-staters: First Congregational United Church of Christ.

First Congregational United Church of ChristThe moment the Oregon decision went public, church administrator Kate Woolley started fielding a steady stream of calls from same-sex Oregon couples. For the past few weeks, Woolley said, she's been taking wedding bookings for nothing but same-sex, out-of-state couples.

"Many of them are from UCC churches in Oregon who still can't get married there," said the Rev. Brooks Berndt. "But not all of them. A number don't have any particular religious affiliation but know they do want to get married in a Christian church."

Overall, marriage license applications in Clark Country have set monthly records every month since Washington legalized gay marriage last year. Marriage equality organization in Oregon are currently gathering signatures for a proposed 2014 ballot measure that would bring same-sex marriage to the state. 


  1. JCTSF says

    Also happening with El Paso, Texas couples travelling to Doña Ana County, New Mexico. Certain to happen as well with St. Louis, Missouri couples travelling to St. Clair County, Illinois. You can’t put the equality genie back in the bottle!

  2. BZ says

    It’s absurd the state Oregonians are in (in more senses than one.) It’s legal for us to BE married here, but it’s not legal for us to GET married here. This is intolerable and won’t last until Election Day 2014. The federal courts will strike it down. Any “harm” the fundies claim would happen due to marriage equality would be offset by the fact that WE ALREADY HAVE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, we just can’t sign the EFFING PAPERWORK here. It’s as if same-sex marriage were some kind of exotic booze that the Oregon state-run liquor stores don’t carry, but is perfectly legal to possess if it’s bought across the state line in WA or CA.

  3. Bob says

    Let’s note that Clark County is right across the river, and is part of Metro Portland.
    My take on why marriage equality has not hit Oregon yet:
    — Lack of a vibrant, assertive Gay male population. I consider Portland to be modern for lesbians and 40 years behind for Gay men. The article (ridiculously) leaves out what % of those booking weddings at that church, but I bet it’s 3/4 or more women.
    — Folks move to Oregon to fit in and not make waves, which drives me nuts, because they don’t like any suggestions for improvement, and they don’t like change.

  4. Dback says

    My partner and I have been married twice in California, once in a church service with family and friends, then (briefly) legally at City Hall In 2004 before they were stopped & invalidated. We then got civil unioned in Oregon a few years ago. We are Oregonians by choice and will wait to do itlegally when the laws change here, not going through Washington. And then, hopefully, we’ll never have to again!

  5. RonCharles says

    Every couple from Oregon who marries in another state and returns to Oregon with a valid, recognized marriage just adds even more weight to the legal and ethical arguments that gay marriage should be legalized in their state. They are creating a de facto situation in which gay marriage will become inevitable.

  6. YSOSERIOUS says

    As a long-time Oregonian, I can tell you that this is not a done deal. Those who oppose marriage equality see Oregon (rightly) as a litmus test for repeals of Constitutional amendments.

    If Oregon (a State that voted for bias repeatedly and pretty overwhelmingly) can push back the Oregon Constitution and pass marriage equality (two separate items) AT THE SAME TIME it will be the death knell to the bias-believers.

    I’ve heard many politicos say this isn’t as easy as some would like it to seem.

    The really terrible thing is, as others have stated, that we can BE married in Oregon, but we cannot GET married in Oregon.

    My partner doesn’t want a ‘technical’ marriage, he wants one that is State-sanctified – that’s part of what you’re buying with marriage.

    I agree mostly, but I yearn, YEARN, to be married to him. He is my best friend and my B’schert.