It didn’t take long for the court ruling legalizing gay marriages to become politicized. Even before the first couples got married shortly after noon on May 19, Oregon’s Democratic elected leaders were announcing their support for the ruling in a wave of email news releases.

Within minutes of the ruling’s release, enthusiastic statements were sent from the offices of U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, 1st Congressional District Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, 5th District Rep. Kurt Schrader, Gov. John Kitzhaber, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, Senate President Peter Courtney, state Senate Democratic leader Diane Rosenbaum, Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and the Democratic Party of Oregon.

The only Republican to quickly respond, House Republican leader Mike McClane, sent out a release calling the decision a logical extension of the earlier U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the matter and calling for “reconciliation” between the two sides.

Mayors marry politics, religion

Both Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Silverton Mayor Stu Rasmussen spent part of last Monday marrying same-sex couples. Their authority to officiate at weddings is not related to their elected positions, however. Both are ministers of the Universal Life Church, an organization more associated with hippies than mainstream politics.

Founded in Modesto, Calif., in 1962, the organization offers immediate ordination to anyone free of charge. It has no religious doctrine, other than preaching doing “that which is right.” Many young men became ULC ministers in the 1960s and ‘70s because they mistakenly believed it would prevent them from being drafted and sent to fight in Vietnam. Others mistakenly thought it would give them automatic tax-exempt status.

Both Hales and Rasmussen performed weddings at the Melody Ballroom, which was rented by Oregon United for Marriage for the occasion. Rasmussen, who is the first openly transgendered mayor in the country, reminded those not getting married that the Oregon Gardens in Silverton is a lovely location for a wedding.

Hales’ election streak still intact

Mayor Charlie Hales was all smiles on election night, bragging that he has now “won nine out of nine elections.” That’s an impressive record, although it might be more accurate to say his campaigns received the most votes each time.

Hales’ most recent victory was the defeat of the proposed Portland public water district. He organized and led the campaign against it.

Before that, Hales got the most votes in his first race for the City Council and then won the 1992 general election. He was re-elected twice, and led successful campaigns for a Parks & Recreation levy and against term limits before resigning from the council at the end of 2002.

Hales then returned to Portland politics by receiving the most votes for mayor in the 2013 primary election and winning the office in the general election.

Hales could be risking his record with the proposed transportation utility fee, however. Although Hales and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick hope the City Council will approve it without a vote of the people, some business groups are already talking about placing it on the ballot if that happens.

Options include referring the fee to the ballot, which requires around 20,000 valid signatures to be gathered within 30 days of the final council vote. Although that is a tight deadline, flouridation opponents did it last year. An initiative petition to overturn the fee is another possibility, and signatures for that could be collected for months.

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