Same-sex marriage petition drive kicks off in Bend

Oregon United for Marriage seeks spot on November 2014 ballot

Oregon group gathers names for same-sex marriage ballot

BEND, Ore. - "Do you support marriage equality?"

Friday's hot weather wasn't stopping Bend resident Nate Lund from canvassing downtown Bend, asking people to support same-sex marriage in Oregon.

It's a question asked dozens of times in Bend, and echoed thousands of times across the state as Oregon United for Marriage launched an effort to collect signatures needed to place same-sex marriage on the November 2014 ballot.

"Our goal in the next 10 days is 10,000 signatures. Today, as many as we can get," said volunteer Marjo May-Korish.

More than 1,000 volunteers across the state came out to help, and about 100 locals hit the streets of Central Oregon, each hoping to collect at least 25 signatures.

"I'm going to try to get as many as I can," Lund said. "I believe in the Golden Rule, treat others as you would be treated."

Nine years ago, voters defined marriage as between one man and one woman, but petitioners say this time around, Oregon has changed.

"Obviously, for young people, it's a non-issue for most of them," May-Korish said. "People of my generation, older and younger are also coming to realize that we're just people and we all want to have the same rights."

Lund said he wants his loved ones to have the same rights that he does.

"I have many close friends who are gay and lesbians. I just hate to see them treated differently," Lund said.

At Portland's rally, Oregon United for Marriage Press Secretary Peter Zuckerman said gay marriage is now an open and regular conversation.

"More and more people are talking to their friends and family and neighbors and they're coming to understand gay and lesbian couples want to marry for similar reasons as anyone else, love and commitment," Zuckerman said.

More than 116,000 voter signatures must be collected to put gay marriage back on the ballot.

May-Korish said she expects a good chunk of those signatures will come from right here on the High Desert.

"Bend has always been a pace -setter, as far as doing the right thing, and I'm confident Central Oregon will take the lead on this initiative," May-Korish said.

But others say they can only follow God's lead -- and that if it comes to the ballot, they'll vote no.

"Family value is really important," said Prineville resident Jim Bachman. "And I think the true meaning of family is husband and wife."

It's a deeply divisive, of which Lund says the gap is closing.

"The numbers are changing, and they're changing pretty rapidly, I think it's going to pass. But, if it doesn't, I'll be back," Lund said.

Bachman said, "I just hope God will be the guiding light in whatever happens."

All signatures must be collected by next July, Oregon United for Marriage hopes to collect 10,000 signatures in the next 10 days.

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