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Governor Urges Lawmakers to Pass Non-Discrimination Bill in 2005

The beginning of the 2005 legislative session got off to a great start Monday as Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski announced that enacting a statewide civil rights law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation is one of his biggest legislative priorities for 2005.

The Governor revealed his plans during his "state-of-the-state" address before the Oregon Legislature:

"In addition to economic challenges, we also face a great moral challenge: To make sure that opportunity is an open door through which every citizen can pass - not a revolving door that turns for some and doesn't budge for others. This is a moral challenge because if we do not defend social justice, tolerance and diversity – then the progress we make on the economic front will be bought with compromised principles and a weakened human spirit.

That is not a trade-off I can accept - which is why I will introduce a bill adding sexual orientation to state laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Ask yourselves: Do we really want to push ahead by leaving others behind? And do we really want to risk our future by turning our backs on the talent and drive of women, minorities, gays and lesbians, and our native brothers and sisters?

We need to bring people in - not shut them out. This is the right thing to do. It also happens to be the smart thing to do. Diversity is strength – not a weakness. That’s why I support affirmative action – and believe that women, minority and small businesses should be afforded meaningful opportunities to participate in both the public and private economy. Standing up for diversity will help us strengthen the state of our state by tapping the abilities of all our citizens. Just as important - standing up for diversity will affirm that we really are one Oregon with one common destiny."

Basic Rights Oregon applauds the Governor for so publicly committing himself to this bill, which is one of our major legislative goals for 2005.

This is, without a doubt, a positive step in the right direction.BRO is, however, concerned that the bill the Governor has proposed is not as far reaching and inclusive as it needs to be. It does not, for example, appear to include protection from discrimination based on gender identity. BRO is committed to pushing for a comprehensive bill that protects ALL Oregonians from discrimination.
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