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LGBT advocate lauds Judge McShane ruling on gay marriage in Oregon

This has been a whirlwind of a historic year for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement. And now, on May 19, in Oregon, another step forward has been achieved.

After decades of hard work and countless setbacks, a majority of Americans support the freedom to marry, and courts across the country are throwing out marriage restrictions.

From Idaho to Arkansas, courts across the nation are unanimously affirming that there is no reasonable argument for our government to deny marriage to loving and committed couples. In May, Idaho became the 16th consecutive state or federal court victory since the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in "Windsor v. United States" last June.

A year ago, we believed, with good reason, that the only path to the freedom to marry in Oregon was through the ballot. Once the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Windsor case, the legal landscape shifted dramatically, and by the end of the year, we had joined a federal lawsuit.

In February, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced she considered the state's ban on same-sex marriage "indefensible" and would not defend Measure 36 (an initiative passed in 2004 that amended the Oregon Constitution to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman) in court.

So in mid-May, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane denied a last-minute attempt by the out-of-state group National Organization for Marriage to intervene in the case. Since then, we dared to dream a court decision would go our way.

Meanwhile, we have also undergone a rollercoaster of changes as the Oregon Family Council announced it would take an Arizona-like discrimination measure to the November ballot, only to later withdraw from its efforts.

With Judge McShane's ruling to throw out Measure 36, the LGBT movement in Oregon has reached a great victory in our continuing quest to be treated with equality and fairness.

The changes of the past year have at times felt dizzying.

While it often seems inevitable in hindsight, change of this magnitude only comes with hard work, and this sea of change of support for the freedom to marry came as a direct result of thousands of Oregonians who have had brave conversations with friends, family and even strangers about why marriage matters.

As Oregonians heard from friends, family and neighbors about why marriage matters to all caring and committed couples, we've seen hearts and minds change on this issue.

During the past few decades, Oregon has faced more anti-gay state and local ballot measures than any other state. The coalitions we have built during the years to fight these measures have strengthened us and made Oregon unique...

While we were not certain how Judge McShane would rule, we were confident that we would win the freedom to marry this year. Now we know that 2014 will be remembered as the year loving and committed couples across the state won the freedom to marry.

Achieving the freedom to marry, while significant and profound, does not mean the struggle for equality is done. Our community is diverse in its needs and struggles, and our organization has never been a single-issue organization...

This point of view opinion piece was written by Jeana Frazzini, who is executive director of Basic Rights Oregon.