SALEM, Ore. – The state Senate (search) approved a bill Friday that would give same-sex couples most of the legal benefits of marriage, but the civil union legislation appeared doomed in the Republican-run state House.
Two GOP senators joined 17 Democrats in passing the Senate bill, which also would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing and employment. The measure has the support of Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski (search).
Chuck Deister, spokesman for House Speaker Karen Minnis (search), said that there are no plans to bring the bill to a vote in that chamber.
Oregon voters in November passed a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Republican Sen. Jeff Kruse on Friday called the Senate bill "another step down the road to Armageddon" and questioned whether pedophiles will want equal rights.
"This is dangerous ground, colleagues," he said. "This is a blatant attempt to overturn the will of the voters."
Ben Westlund was among the two Republican senators who voted for the measure.
"We are on the front lines of the civil rights struggle of this generation," Westlund said. "One of the freedoms that should be afforded to all human beings is the freedom to form families."
Vermont and Connecticut have passed civil union laws, while Massachusetts is the only state allowing gay marriage.