Oregon senate panel OK's civil union bill
June 25 2005 12:00 AM ET
Gay couples would
get benefits similar to those of married
couples and gain protection against discrimination in
jobs, housing, and public accommodations under a bill
approved by the Oregon senate rules committee. The
senate is expected to vote on the measure next week in
the first vote in either chamber of the legislature on
creating a civil union law giving same-sex partners
virtually all the legal rights available under
Such rights could include inheritance benefits,
like entitlement to pensions or to other property when
a partner dies, and the right to make medical
decisions for a partner. The bill, approved Thursday, also
adds sexual orientation to a law that forbids
discrimination in employment, housing, and public
accommodations based on race, color, religion, and
several other factors.
Senate majority leader Kate Brown, a
Democrat from Portland and chief sponsor of the
bill, believes the measure can pass in the senate,
where it has bipartisan support. But the bill's chances
aren't considered good in the Republican-run house.
Some leaders there back an alternative proposal to
grant limited "reciprocal" benefits to any two people
over 18, including relatives and same-sex couples. Gov.
Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat, supports civil unions and
has made antidiscrimination protections for gays a
Massachusetts allows same-sex marriage, while
Vermont grants civil union rights, and Connecticut
will begin offering civil unions in October. Domestic
partners in California have all rights and responsibilities
of marriage conferred by the state except the ability
to file joint income taxes. (AP)
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