Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski (D) signed two bills into law last Wednesday establishing legal rights for same-sex couples akin to the benefits of marriage and banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. According to the Associated Press, House Bill 2007 legalizes domestic partnerships and proclaims that same-sex couples have the same “responsibilities, privileges, immunities, rights and benefits of married couples and, if applicable, divorced couples.” Senate Bill 2 outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation “in the workplace, housing and public accommodations.”
Gov. Kulongoski said in a press release Wednesday, “I started this legislative session declaring that this is the session of opportunity, where we will succeed in affording all Oregonians the same rights and protections under the law–and where we will formally recognize that diversity and equality of opportunity makes us all stronger, not weaker.”
Oregon, which is home to roughly 11,000 same-sex couples, joins California, Washington, and Maine in establishing the right to domestic partnerships. Massachusetts allows same-sex couples to marry, while Connecticut, New Jersey, and Vermont permit civil unions. Hawaii has a reciprocal benefits law. Additionally, 18 states have laws on the books banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“If you look at the majority of the bills that pass each session, they are what I call transactional,” explained Gov. Kulongoski. “However, every decade or so there are a few bills that are actually transformational ‘ and House Bill 2007 and Senate Bill 2 are two pieces or legislation that will literally transform our state from one of exclusion to one of complete inclusion.”