Ashland Mayor John Stromberg and all six Ashland City Council members have endorsed a statement supporting the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Ashland Mayor John Stromberg and all six Ashland City Council members have endorsed a statement supporting the right of same-sex couples to marry.

"As mayor and council members of a great Oregon city, we proudly stand together in support of the freedom of same-sex couples to marry," the statement reads.

Last week, Stromberg and all six council members agreed to sign the statement. They each plan to drop by Ashland City Hall by Friday to sign their names.

The statement continues, "We personally know many gay and lesbian people living in our cities and towns who are in committed, loving relationships, who are active participants in the civic life of our communities, and who deserve to be able to marry the person with whom they share their life."

Stromberg and the council memberts were asked to sign the statement by Southern Oregon Pride, a local organization that supports gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people.

"I'm very excited that I live in a place where I'm not just tolerated, I'm welcomed," said Gina DuQuenne, president of the Southern Oregon Pride board of directors.

DuQuenne said she has been with her partner for 13 years. Though they are committed to each other, they cannot legally marry in Oregon and don't have the same rights as married couples, DuQuenne said.

DuQuenne said she holds out hope that marriage will become legal for same-sex couples throughout America someday.

"I know it's going to happen in my lifetime," she said. "We've come so far, but we have so far to go."

In the statement voicing support for same-sex marriage rights, Stromberg and council members said cities derive economic benefits from embracing diversity because that draws creative entrepreneurs.

Since winning the support of Ashland's mayor and council for the statement, DuQuenne said she's been asked whether she'll invite elected officials in other Rogue Valley cities to sign similar statements.

"Maybe I will branch out and ask others. We have the momentum and we want to branch out," she said.

Talent Mayor Bill Cecil said that he tries not to get involved in issues that are not Talent city business.

He said the issue of same-sex marriage rights needs to be addressed at the state level.

"Personally, I try to see everyone as completely equal," Cecil said.

Central Point Mayor Hank Williams said he probably would not be interested in signing a statement in support of same-sex marriage, and declined to comment further.

Medford Mayor Gary Wheeler did not return a phone call for comment.

For more information about Southern Oregon Pride and its events, see www.sopride.org.

Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.