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Civil Unions Issue Lingers In Legislative Limbo

SALEM, OR: One year after Multnomah County began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, gay rights advocates spent the day at Oregon's capitol lobbying for civil unions and a ban on discrimination.

(Oregon Considered) - Several hundred activists organized by the group Basic Rights Oregon rallied on the steps of the capitol, to the heckles of a handful of anti-gay rights activists.

Nat sound: "You're on your way to hell!" "Hey, hey, ho, ho, discrimination has got to go..."

A bill to give gay couples all the legal and financial benefits of marriage, but without the label of marriage, remains in legislative limbo.

Lawmakers are waiting to see what the Oregon Supreme Court decides to do with the 3000 marriage licenses given to same sex couples in Multnomah County last March.

The documents could be invalidated by a constitutional amendment approved in November defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Rally organizer Roey Thorpe told the crowd the last year has not ended the debate over gay rights.

Roey Thorpe: "We have been up. We have been down. We've won and we've lost. And people might think we're defeated. But we are not! We have never given up. We are not going away. We will never give up!"

Earlier in the day, gay rights activists heard from Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski who is supporting a bill to ban workplace and housing discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Ted Kulongoski: "It is unfair for us as the state to ask you for your taxes, your work effort, your contributions, but not to treat you fairly. And we're going to change that."

Critics of the discrimination bill and the civil unions proposal argued that both are unnecessary.

By Colin Fogarty, OPB
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