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Same-sex marriage supporters rally in Bend

By Femi Abebefe
Published On: Apr 23 2014 02:11:15 AM CDT
Updated On: Apr 23 2014 03:19:58 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Femi Abebefe attended a same-sex marriage rally on the eve of a crucial hearing.

BEND, Ore. -

On Wednesday, a federal judge will hear oral arguments over Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage. On Tuesday, dozens of people gathered in downtown Bend to show they support efforts to end the ban.

There were about 60 people at the rally to have their voices heard. In 2004 ,voters in Oregon defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Ten years later, some people believe it's time for a change.

During Tuesday afternoon's rally, supporters of marriage equality stood on the corner of Wall Street and Newport Avenue in downtown Bend to show their support for those they feel have been treated unfairly.

"I think it's about rights, and everyone having the same rights,” said Katie Wendel, a same-sex marriage supporter. “I mean, we're all Americans, we should all have the same rights. It’s just a slam dunk. To me, it's silly to even have a question over it."

Not everyone is on board, though. The National Organization for Marriage sought allowance to file an opposition brief at a future hearing.

The group's board chairman, John Eastman, said lifting the ban could have long-term repercussions.

"The institution of marriage provides important benefits to society, and if we destroy it and sever its connections with the unique pro-creative abilities of men and women, society is going to be harmed as a result," Eastman said.

Becky Groves is the Central Oregon president of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Her son is gay and engaged to his partner of seven years.

"I have two straight daughters who are able to legally marry the person that they love, and my son cannot,” Groves said. “So, that would give him the rights and responsibilities his sisters have."

Eastman said many people are overlooking simple biology when it comes to defining the institution of marriage.

"I can't tell you how many times people have told me, 'Well, same-sex couples can have kids themselves as well.' And I say, 'Not with each other they can't,’” Eastman said. “The basic biological fact is not something that changes with a historical trend or a public opinion poll."

As for Groves and Wendel, they believe it's only a matter of time before marriage equality comes to Oregon.

"Once you know someone who's gay that you love and respect, you realize that it's just ridiculous not to give them the same rights everyone else has,” Wendel said.

“We're on the right side of history,” Groves said. “This is going to happen. It’s just the right thing to do."

Whichever side you're on, it continues to be a closely-contested debate.

New federal Judge Michael McShane announced that he won't be making any decisions at tomorrow's hearing; just listening to the arguments before deciding if the ban's supporters have standing. If so, new arguments will be held..

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