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Oregon House moves to update LGBTQ language in statute


SALEM, Ore. (AP) – The Oregon House has moved to scrub language offensive to LGBTQ Oregonians in a bill that also specifies that sexual orientation is not a physical or mental impairment.

The bill passed the House Wednesday in a 58-2 vote and goes to the Senate.

Rep. Rob Nosse, who is gay, said on the House floor that Oregon’s anti-LGBTQ laws date back to the 1850s when Oregon was a territory, and helped put some people into mental institutions and the state penitentiary. They were enforced until the 1970s but remnants of those sentiments remain, the Portland Democrat said.

The measure modernizes language referring to transgender people. It clarifies that sexual orientation isn’t considered a physical or mental impairment and that a person doesn’t have a disability solely due to sexual orientation.

News release from Oregon House Democrats:

Legislation Removes Outdated, Offensive Language from Employment, Anti-Discrimination Laws

Clarifies law to assure transgender Oregonians are recognized and included

SALEM – Legislation to remove and update offensive language in the state’s employment and anti-discrimination laws passed the Oregon House today.

House Bill 2589 specifies that sexual orientation is not a physical or mental impairment for the purposes of employment discriminati! on and modernizes language currently in statute to help assure transgender Oregonians are recognized and included under Oregon law.

“Cleaning up these provisions will not only honor the dignity of transgender people, but it will also clear up a muddled and confusing relic from a different time,” said the bill’s co-chief sponsor, Rep. Karin Power (D-Milwaukie). “Words matter. The revision of this statutory language is a meaningful step in the right direction of validating the marginalized identities of the LGBTQIA+ and disabled communities.”

Current statutes include outdated and offensive terms that evoke harmful stereotypes of transgender people. This legislation would continue work that has been ongoing over the years to update language in state law to use appropriate and modern terms that both clarify law and keep existing protections intact.

“In times past, when prejudice against marginalized communities went more unchallenged, our Legislature enacted discriminatory language into our statutes,” said Rep. Rob Nosse (D-Portland), who also co-chief sponsored the legislation. “Although our state has made strides in how it treats its LGBTQIA+ citizens, that work will not be complete until the discriminatory vestiges of bygone eras are removed from state law.”

Signed on as sponsors are Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn), Rep. Julie Fahey (D-West Eugene and Junction City), Rep. John Lively (D-Springfield), Rep. Pam Marsh (D-Ashland), Rep. Caddy McKeown (D-Coos Bay), Rep. Courtney Neron (D-Wilsonville), Rep. Rachel Prusak (D-West Linn), Rep. Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland, Rep. Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland), Rep. Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro), Rep. Marty Wilde (D-Central Lane and Linn Counties), Rep. Anna Williams (D-Hood River), and Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland).

Oregon House Democrats are fighting to ensure that every Oregonian is afforded the same fundamental rights, regardless of their race, religion, gender expression, age, or sexual orientation.

The legislation, which passed 58 to 2, now moves to the Oregon Senate for consideration.

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