Political Beat

Clark County worker advocates for same-sex marriage in Oregon

 

Paul Harris, seated second from left, and his longtime partner, James Griener, are the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in the county at the Clark County Auditor's Office on Dec. 6, 2012. (Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)

Paul Harris, seated second from left, and his longtime partner, James Griener, are the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in the county at the Clark County Auditor’s Office on Dec. 6, 2012. (Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)

Paul Harris,┬árecording manager at the Clark County Auditor’s Office, spent years watching straight couples file marriage applications, but it wasn’t until last December that he could do the same with his longtime partner, James Griener.

On Dec. 6, 2012, before television cameras, onlookers and reporters, Harris and Griener were the first same-sex couple to file their marriage application in Clark County. Now, Harris is helping push a law in Oregon that would allow same-sex couples to marry, too.

“I am asking you to help celebrate a first year anniversary 40 years in the making, by making a contribution to Oregon United for Marriage, so that love and freedom to marry can triumph in Oregon,” Harris wrote in a Dec. 12 advocacy email sent out by gay rights group Oregon United for Marriage.

The organization is working to get a measure on the 2014 ballot that would make same-sex marriages in Oregon legal. Washington voters approved a similar ballot measure in November 2012. The email Harris sent out to Oregon United’s email lists asked supporters to donate to the cause.

“Over the years, I have issued thousands of marriage licenses to loving and committed couples no different from my partner (and me),” Harris wrote. “Well, there was one difference. James and I were legally barred from being able to marry.”

Harris and Griener married in a ceremony at 12:12 p.m. on Dec. 12, 2012. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” Harris wrote.

Harris is not the same Paul Harris who serves as state representative for the 17th Legislative District.

Stevie Mathieu

Stevie Mathieu is a political writer at The Columbian. Contact her at 360-735-4523 or stevie.mathieu@columbian.com or www.facebook.com/reportermathieu or www.twitter.com/col_politics.

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