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Oregon governor to introduce sweeping pro-gay bill

Oregon governor to introduce sweeping pro-gay bill

Oregon governor Ted Kulongoski on Wednesday said he will introduce legislation by the end of the week that will consolidate measures having to do with same-sex civil unions and an antigay discrimination ban into a single bill. The governor said Senate Bill 1000 would give gay and lesbian couples in Oregon the same state-level rights and protections afforded to straight couples who marry. It would also outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. Rebbecca Kassell, a spokeswoman for the gay rights group Basic Rights Oregon, said that in most of Oregon it's legal to evict a tenant, deny service at a restaurant, or refuse to hire someone based solely on their perceived sexual orientation. "Most Oregonians are pretty shocked to learn that that is the case," she said, "and they believe that discrimination is wrong. So this really puts into Oregon law our values as a state." The bill is backed by a bipartisan group of legislators. It comes at a time when voters recently passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and when the state high court is expected to rule soon on a challenge to the state's anti-gay marriage statutes.

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