The Oregon Senate passed a bill Wednesday allowing same-sex couples to enter into contractual domestic partnerships with the same state benefits as married couples. The measure covers state benefits including inheritance, child custody, and hospital visitation rights, but does not affect federal benefits for married couples. The bill passed the state House last month and now goes to Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who has said he will sign it. Kulongoski has also said he will sign a second piece of legislation protecting individuals against discrimination based on sexual orientation. That bill would ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations, and create a civil cause of action for violations of the act.
Currently, Vermont, Connecticut, California, New Jersey, Maine and Washington are the only states that recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships. The Washington State Senate passed a domestic partnership bill in March. Late last month, the New Hampshire Senate voted in favor of a bill already passed by the state House allowing same-sex civil unions. Also in late April, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer introduced a bill to legalize gay marriage in New York.