PORTLAND, ORE. - Today, members of the Oregon House of Representatives approved in bipartisan votes the Oregon Equality Act (S.B. 2) and the Oregon Family Fairness Act (H.B. 2007).
The Oregon Equality Act, which passed the state House by a vote of 35 to 25, will outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. The act was introduced in the Oregon Senate at the request of the Governor's Task Force on Equality in Oregon and passed the Senate on March 21 by a vote of 21 to 7. Because amendments were made to the legislation in the House, the bill will now return to the Senate for a concurrence vote before being sent to Gov. Ted Kulongoski for signature. At a rally in March, Kulongoski indicated he would sign the legislation, stating, "I have the pen ready."
When the Oregon Equality Act is signed into law, Oregon will become the 18th U.S. state to ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and the ninth to ban such discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
The Oregon Family Fairness Act, which passed the state House by a vote of 34 to 26, would establish domestic partnerships for committed same-sex couples and provide all the same state-granted privileges, immunities, rights, benefits and responsibilities for same-sex couples entering a domestic partnership as are granted to married couples. This bill will now be considered by the Oregon Senate. If the bill passes the Senate and is signed by the governor, Oregon will join a growing group of states providing significant protections to committed same-sex couples. Massachusetts provides equal marriage rights for same-sex couples Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey provide civil unions and California provides registered partnerships. Marriage equality legislation is advancing in Connecticut and California, civil unions bills are advancing in New Hampshire and Illinois and just last week legislators in Washington state moved to provide a more limited set of protections to same-sex couples.
"Legislators in Oregon today significantly advanced the cause of equality for all Oregonians. After these bills are signed, Oregon will be a freer and fairer place for its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "We applaud House Speaker Jeff Merkley and the many legislators who voted today for fairness and equality, Governor Kulongoski who has pledged to sign these bills, our partners at Basic Rights Oregon and all the HRC members in Oregon who worked hard to pass these important protections."
"Today Oregon took two great strides toward equality by passing the Oregon Family Fairness Act and the Oregon Equality Act," said Oregon Speaker of the House Jeff Merkley, D-Portland. "Citizen activists from all corners of the state, along with Basic Rights Oregon and the Human Rights Campaign, deserve great credit for this victory."
The Human Rights Campaign is proud to have partnered with Basic Rights Oregon in 2006 to elect a fair-minded majority to the Oregon Legislature and this year to pass pro-equality legislation. HRC has invested in this partnership through direct financial and technical assistance to Basic Rights Oregon. In addition, HRC has consistently worked to mobilize its members in Oregon to support the strategic goals of Basic Rights Oregon and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Oregonians.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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