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Surgery could hurt both twins...

Despite rumors - legislators are simply considering this option. It has not happened yet. Make sure it doesn't happen! Click here to take action now.

Editorial from OregonLive.com:

It was disappointing to learn Tuesday that Senate Bill 1000, which started out as landmark legislation to protect the rights of gays and lesbians in Oregon, has apparently now been split in two.

The original bill had twin goals: Outlaw discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing, employment and public accommodations, such as restaurants, stores and theaters; and create Vermont-style civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

We don't pretend to know the precise thinking behind this legislative surgery, but we do know it says something sad about Oregon. It appears that one half of the bill -- which would have protected gays and lesbians from discrimination -- may have been sacrificed to increase the chances that the other half (creating civil unions) will thrive.

In reality, both halves are essential. And although it was unusual, there was something inspired about twinning the two in the original SB1000. Legislators say each has a penumbra of complexities, and resolving those will be easier if each stands alone. Maybe so, but there was an elegant economy about combining the two. In effect, they argue for each other. Both stand on the same bedrock principle: that all Oregonians are equal, no matter their color, religion, sex or sexual orientation.

In Oregon today, amazingly, it's legal to refuse to hire or even to fire gays and lesbians because they're gay or lesbian; to reject their housing applications because they're gay or lesbian; and to refuse to serve them in restaurants because they're gay or lesbian. This is so wrong that it, honestly, seems like a throwback to another century.

But it's not. People who testified against SB1000 justified keeping discrimination against gays and lesbians intact with rationalizations they would never use against Catholics, Jews or Asian or African Americans. These minorities have also faced ugly discrimination in past eras, but circa 2005, most people know such prejudice is wrong, and that Oregonians of different races, ethnic heritages and religious beliefs have every right to seek out housing, apply for jobs and live their lives. Gay and lesbian Oregonians should enjoy the same rights -- but they don't.

Supporters of the original Senate Bill 1000 said Tuesday that the surgery performed on the bill shouldn't be interpreted as leaving the anti-discrimination provisions to die. Both halves of the bill are important, supporters said, but there was a fear that both halves of the bill would die if they stayed joined.

"I'm passionate about both of them, and both should go forward," said Sen. Ben Westlund, R-Tumalo, one of the co-sponsors of SB1000.

If the Oregon Legislature succeeds in creating civil unions, this surgery may look tactically brilliant. But it is depressing to see anti-discrimination legislation -- something so basic -- move to the bottom of the legislative stack.

The original Senate Bill 1000 would have been a landmark. When you cut a landmark in two, it's diminished, no matter how you look at it. Both halves of this bill are vital to make Oregon a safe, fair, welcoming state for all Oregonians.

Make sure it doesn't get split into two bills! Click here to take action now.
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