ASHLAND, Ore. – City leaders in the Rogue Valley are throwing their official support behind same-sex marriage and supporters say it’s a big step in Oregon. Ashland’s mayor says he is publicly supporting marriage equality is giving city councilors the opportunity to do the same.
“I had been looking for an opportunity to support this issue, and I was glad to sign it,” Ashland Mayor John Stromberg said on Thursday.
Gay rights advocates hope this is a move that will inspire other communities. They say support from a city leader can go a long way. Mayor Stromberg said he supports gay marriage and this week, he wanted to make it official.
“I think that I was expressing a widely held value in Ashland, in fairness and in health of the community, that everyone should have the opportunity to participate in this institution of marriage without any kind of discrimination,” Mayor Stromberg said.
Stromberg was approached by Gina DuQuenne of Southern Oregon Pride, who asked for the public support for marriage equality. At Tuesday’s city council meeting, the mayor read his intention to endorse it.
“I’m sitting there with tears in my eyes, my partner’s sitting next to me, we look at each other, and it’s kind of an unbelievable moment,” said DuQuenne.
DuQuenne explained it’s part of an effort by the group Basic Rights Oregon, the idea being that if more community leaders sign their names to an effort supporting gay marriage, they can push forward for something on the 2014 ballot. Stromberg says he doesn’t know how many other cities will publicly support the idea, but says every bit helps and others just appreciate the message sent by the gesture.
“The opportunity that I get a chance to live somewhere where it’s okay to love who you want to love,” DuQuenne expressed.
Mayor Stromberg says he is waiting until all of the city councilors are in town before officially signing his support. He says he wants to give an opportunity for the entire council to be present to decide whether to do the same.