The freedom to make that one-of-a-kind vow

Posted on July 19, 2013

Charles with his partner Steve Lewis

As told by Charles Donald:

I’m from Aurora, Oregon, where I served on the city council for 11 years and also served as Mayor. I’m a community volunteer. I’m a loving grandfather. And I also happen to be in a loving, committed relationship with someone who I would very much like to marry.

Steve and I met 24 years ago—yes, that means we’ve been together for almost a quarter of a century—and we bonded over our mutual love of football. In fact, our very first outings together were to cheer on Portland State in the playoffs, and we’ve been together ever since. We moved to Aurora not only to build a home together, but also to build a home in which we could, together, care for Steve’s aging parents as their health was beginning to deteriorate—something so many of us grapple with later in life.

Steve and my relationship is similar to any other loving, committed couple—gay or straight. We worry about paying the bills, and making ends meet during tough times. We do laundry. We watch football. We take the dog on walks. We volunteer at our church and in our community.

And we want to the freedom to marry for the same reasons other people do. Marriage is one of the few times where people reveal their hearts, make a public promise of love and responsibility and ask their friends and family to hold them accountable. After 24 years, through think and through thin, in good times and hard times…that’s marriage. And we so want the freedom to make that one-of-a-kind vow.

The fact that it’s illegal for me to marry the person I love – that is what’s motivating me to get petitions, to get out there and collect signatures, to start this conversation with Oregonians about why marriage matters to committed couples like me and Steve. Like so many Oregonians, we live our lives by the most important lesson our parents taught us – to treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves. We should all have the freedom to marry the person we love.