Oregon Gov. Signs Domestic Partner Bill

( [email protected] ) May 10, 2007 11:45 AM EDT

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Oregon on Wednesday joined a growing list of states prepared to offer gay couples some of the benefits of marriage.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed legislation creating "domestic partnerships" for gays and lesbians in the state starting Jan. 1. He also signed a bill that outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation, effective the same date.

The measures had been attempted before but were always blocked by the Legislature until this year.

The 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 transgendered 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 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.

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