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One of the couples at the center of lawsuit over same-sex marriage met in Sandy

Hearing on Oregon's ban to take place Wednesday, May 14


Deanna Geiger and Janine Nelson are fighting for their right to marry.

They and another couple are the plaintiffs of a U.S. District Court case, Geiger v. Kitzhaber, challenging Oregon’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage filed in late 2013.

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane will hold a hearing for the case on Wednesday, May 14, in federal court in Eugene.

“It could be the last hearing in the case, and it’s possible McShane will rule on the case that day,” said Peter Zuckerman, Press Secretary for Basic Rights Oregon, “allowing Janine and her partner, along with other same-sex couples in Oregon, to marry that day.”by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: ALICIA J. ROSE PHOTOGRAPHY - Deanna Geiger and Janine Nelson are platiffs in a lawsuit challening Oregons ban on same-sex marriage.

Although Geiger, 55, and Nelson, 53, reside in Portland, they have deep ties to Sandy. They met here in 1982.

Both Campfire alumni with experiences at Camp Namanu, the women both wound up as counselors at the camp during a time when the job market was challenging.

They met while they were working together at the camp. Their first date consisted of eating pizza while doing their laundry.

As women in their 20s, Geiger and Nelson were frequenters to the Pizza Barn and bars around town.

“Every time we go up to Mount Hood and pass those things we think of them fondly,” Nelson said.

Geiger said the couple just wants to be able to use the term marriage to commit the love that they have for each other.

Although they celebrated their 30th anniversary with a big wedding-style party, they were unable to have a ceremony.

“We’ve always resisted going to another state to get married,” said Geiger of why they decided to file the lawsuit. “Because we met in Oregon, we wanted to get married here. We decided that this was another alternative.”by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - The couple met in Sandy 31 years ago.

On Wednesday, Judge McShane will hear arguments from the National Organization for Marriage, an organization working to defend Oregon’s current definition of legal marriage. The organization filed requests to intervene a mere two days before the case’s last hearing on April 23.

The National Organization for Marriage argues that since defendant Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has declined to defend the law its members felt obligated to step in. It believes the state should have an interest in protecting stability for procreative unions.

“For us to (who’ve been together for 30 years) to be a threat to marriage is nothing short of ridiculous,” Nelson said.

Geiger and Nelson have been together for 31 years, 32 years in August 2014, and if the case is successful, they hope to wait until Aug. 10, the anniversary of their first date, to get married.