EUGENE, Ore. - Same-sex marriage supporters in the Willamette Valley applauded a federal court's ruling that a ban on same-sex marriage in California is unconstitutional.
"I got goosebumps when I heard it this morning," said Tim Smith, a supporter of same-sex marriage from Eugene.
Smith and his partner, Kent Kullby, have been caught in the middle of a legal battle for years.
The couple married for the first time in 2004 when Multnomah County, Ore., began issuing same-sex marriage certificates.
A short time later, voters passed Measure 36, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman in Oregon.
Smith and Kullby moved on to try getting married again in California when same sex marriage was legal.
However, the couple is still waiting for that recognition in Oregon.
"We want to be part of that momentum," Smith said. "We want to be part of that institution in society."
Group leaders at the University of Oregon LGBTQA office are also cheering on the federal ruling.
This student organization is working with students and the community of Eugene to help residents understand their fight to legalize same sex marriage.
"A lot of folks feel that we want special treatment or like we're different, and we are, because everyone's different," said Alex Sylvester, LGBTQA Education Coordinator at the University of Oregon. "I think we just want the same rights that everyone has and a lot of people don't see that we don't have them."
Meanwhile, activists on the other side said they are trying to safeguard a sacred institution.
"We are simply attempting to protect the institution of marriage and its title and definition as only a man and a woman," said Ron Prendes with the "Protect Marriage Coalition."
But Smith said with Tuesday's ruling and an upcoming vote on same-sex marriage in Washington, he is confident gay marriage will one day come to Oregon.
"It's part of a momentum that's going on in this country and at lightning speed," Smith said. "I think years from now, children in their social studies classes will look at this period in American history when same-sex partners were not allowed to get married and say, 'How could that ever have been in America? What was the big deal?'"
The group Basic Rights Oregon decided to not pursue a ballot measure this year. A spokesperson said they may try for one in 2014.