Wednesday joined a growing list of states prepared to offer
gay couples at least some of the benefits of marriage.
Kulongoski signed legislation creating domestic partnerships
starting January 1 for gays and lesbians in the state. He
also signed a bill that outlaws discrimination based
on sexual orientation, effective the same date.
strong backer of both measures, said they would ''transform
our state from one of exclusion to one of complete
inclusion.'' The measures had been attempted before
but were always blocked by the legislature until this
Opponents of the
two bills said they planned to launch a
signature-gathering campaign next week to try to refer both
measures to the November 2008 ballot.
domestic-partnership law will enable same-sex couples to
enter into contractual relationships that carry many
of the benefits offered to married couples. The other
law will ban discrimination against gays, lesbians,
bisexuals, and transgender people in employment, housing,
and access to public accommodations.
So far only
Massachusetts allows gay couples to marry. Vermont,
Connecticut, California, New Jersey, Maine, and Washington
as well as the District of Columbia have laws
allowing either civil unions or domestic partnerships,
and Hawaii extends certain spousal rights to same-sex
couples and cohabiting heterosexual pairs. The New Hampshire
legislature also recently approved a civil unions measure
that Gov. John Lynch has said he will sign. (Brad