New Clackamas County Clerk Catherine McMullen has announced she will resume the traditional practice of officiating civil services for the first time in nearly a decade — just in time for Pride month and the summer wedding season.
Oregon law permits county clerks to offer officiant services for weddings and civil ceremonies, but McMullen’s predecessor, Sherry Hall, ended the practice in Clackamas County after the state legalized same-sex marriage in 2014.
“To now be able to offer a similar affordable, respectful, and inclusive service to all couples — no matter who they love or what their religious beliefs are — is both gratifying and humbling,” McMullen said in a press release.
Sanford Fox and John Erich had waited almost two decades before being the first same-sex couple to get a marriage license in their home of Clackamas County on May 19, 2014.
“We chose to live in Clackamas County when we came to Oregon 20 years ago and have never regretted it,” the couple was quoted as saying in the press release. “We love it here and, as the first same-sex couple to get a marriage license in the county, are honored to be a little piece of its history.”
They acknowledged being disappointed with Hall’s decision to stop conducting marriage ceremonies of any kind in 2014 — and hailed McMullen for saying, “I do,” to bringing them back.
“The county’s resumption of marriages is a victory for equality, inclusivity and common sense,” they said. “Especially at this time, we appreciate this step and the message it sends to all citizens. Clackamas County remains a great place to live!”
Meg Elson and former Milwaukie City Councilor and State Representative Karin Power were another couple who became what they called “paper official” on that sunny day in May nine years ago. They returned to the clerk’s office this week, this time with their kids, Grady and Finn.
“It is so important to have government work for everyone, which is why we’re thrilled to see the clerk’s office once again offering wedding services after a 10-year hiatus,” the couple said in a statement.
“Oregonians strongly support equal rights, and the day that we got married was among the happiest in our lives. Families like ours belong here and we’re grateful to the county clerk and staff for helping all Clackamas residents celebrate love and marriage.”
McMullen has instituted “Wedding Fridays,” adjusting her schedule to conduct civil ceremonies every Friday afternoon at her Oregon City office for $117 a pop, according to the county’s statement.
“My spouse and I got married in a simple civil ceremony before a judge at a county courthouse in Montana many years ago,” said McMullen.
To learn more about getting married in Clackamas County, visit the website here. The process includes filling out an online application and then scheduling an appointment to secure a marriage license.
Both parties must appear together for the appointment. There is a $60 fee for the license, and a three-day waiting period, which can be waived if needed for an additional $15. Marriage license appointments can be made online at clackamas.us/recording or by calling 503-655-8551.
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