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Oregon gov. signs partnerships bill

SALEM, Ore. (BP)–Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed a same-sex domestic partnerships bill into law May 9, making the state the sixth in the nation to grant homosexual couples all of the state’s legal benefits of marriage.

Oregon joins California in granting domestic partnerships. Connecticut, New Jersey and Vermont offer civil unions — identical to domestic partnerships, minus the name — while Massachusetts remains the lone state to recognize “gay marriage.” Any day, New Hampshire is expected to join that list when its governor signs a civil unions bill into law.

The Oregon bill passed the state House, 34-26, and the Senate, 21-9. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats. Kulongoski, also a Democrat, signed the bill with some 200 people looking on. He also signed a bill that bans discrimination based on “sexual orientation” in housing, public accommodations and the workplace.

“We are all created equal and … Oregon is a land of equal opportunity for all of our citizens,” Kulongoski said, according to the Salem Statesman Journal.

But Christians and conservatives in the state disagreed with the bills.

“Same-sex marriages are wrong. Domestic partnership is a fancy name for same-sex marriage,” Margene Eiguren, a cattle rancher in the state’s Jordan Valley, told The Oregonian newspaper. Pro-family groups also said both bills violate religious freedoms.

Members of the Constitution Party of Oregon say they will try and gather enough signatures to place both bills on the 2008 ballot in an attempt to override the governor’s signature. To do so, they must collect 55,000 signatures “from registered voters within 90 days after the Legislature adjourns,” The Oregonian reported.

Opponents of the domestic partnerships law say it violates Measure 36, the constitutional marriage amendment that passed with 56 percent of the vote in 2004.

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