Deschutes County

At Deschutes clerk's office, one couple is the first

George Jackson, Dale McCracken take out marriage license

Bend same-sex couple applies for license

BEND, Ore. - It wasn't very busy down at the Deschutes County Clerk's Office on Monday -- until about 1 p.m., shortly after a federal judge ruled Oregon's voter approved ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. Then George Jackson and Dale McCracken walked in to get their marriage license -- the first same-sex couple to do so.

"We knew it was going to happen eventually," McCracken said, "and at lunchtime, the news came on and said it's decided!"

The Bend couple have been waiting for a long time to get their marriage license, but it's not the first time.

"We were married in 2004," Jackson said, "and they took that away from us. But we did get a domesticated partnership in 2008. We've been together ever since -- I mean, we've been together for almost 20 years."

For the pair, the ruling means more than just a happily ever after,

"As a married couple, we can buy a home," Jackson said. "I won't have to worry about if something should happen to me, if my partner Dale -- now my husband Dale can take care of me."

Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship says the ruling will have no effect on the protocol of getting a marriage license,

"Whether it was a same-sex or different sex, the process is all the same," she said. You come in, you apply, there's a 3-day waiting period. You pay your $55 after we look at your ID, and then it's good for 60 days."

The ruling brought a flood of reaction from lawmakers, ssome cheering the decision, others stating opposition on religious grounds.

Gov. John Kitzhaber said "This is a major step for Oregon and our constant struggle to live up to our ideals of freedom and equality for all."

Sen. Jeff Merkley released the statement: "Now, in Oregon, this most basic freedom -- to marry the one you love -- is a reality for every Oregonian."

But House Republican Leader Mike McCLane, R-Powell Butte, said, "For those that believe marriage is a religious covenant, the origin of which predates America, today's federal court ruling won't change that."

Here in Deschutes County, same-sex couples weren't exactly racing in to get their marriage certificates. But for George and Dale, the feelings were simple.

"We're just happy!" Jackson said.

The couple plans a small ceremony as soon as possible.

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