posted by April 20 at 10:28 AMon
Oregon extends civil rights protections to gays and lesbians…
Oregon is the 18th state to adopt a law protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination. Those states account for nearly half of the nation’s population, said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force based in Washington, D.C. California has an anti-discrimination law, and Washington’s went into effect last year.
No one expects a spike in discrimination complaints in Oregon, just as no one expects a spike here in Washington. Oregon’s most populous counties, Multnomah and Benton, as well as Portland, Salem, and eight other Oregon cities, already have anti-discrimation laws on the books. Increasingly the passage of state civil rights protections for gays and lesbians are largely symbolic victories—unless, of course, you’ve been discriminated against and are unlucky enough to live in an areas that isn’t covered by a city or county’s gay rights protections. Then these laws matter very much—provided you’re out.
You can’t access the protections afforded by gay civil rights laws if you don’t want anyone to find out you’re gay—you can’t sue your boss or landlord without getting your name in the papers, papers that your mom and dad might read. People living out in the boonies are not only likelier to be discriminated against, they’re also less likely to be out. So… the laws are important victories. But the total amount of good a gay civil rights bill does versus, say, passing civil unions or gay marriage, is relatively minor.
But the point is moot—Oregon is on the verge of passing a civil unions law that would grant same-sex couples all marriage rights the state has the power to grant. So Oregon is leapfrogging past Washington state, which passed limited domestic partner benefits this legislative session.