News, Wit & Commentary for Lesbians
In case the link is busted...Nike: Civil Unions Good Business PracticeSporting apparel giant Nike on Tuesday endorsed a bill in the Oregon Senate that would create civil unions for same-sex couples as well as a bill that would outlaw discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. Earlier this year, a coalition that included Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski introduced Senate Bill 1000, which would establish a system for civil unions, and would ban discrimination against gays and lesbians. A decision was made later to split the two issues and move ahead with the civil unions portion as Senate Bill 1073. Nike - the only Fortune 500 company based in Oregon - endorsed both SB 1000 and SB 1073 in a letter delivered to Senate leaders earlier this week. "Many of our employees' lives will be better because of the passage of these bills," wrote Wes Coleman, Nike vice president of global human resources. Nike has endorsed similar legislation introduced in Congress and in other states. The company says it has considered the boycott threats recently made against Microsoft and the potential consumer backlash against Nike, Vada Manager, director of global issues management, said Tuesday. "We also believe our consumers have long appreciated Nike for advocacy on issues of equality and nondiscrimination and fairness," Manager said. According to Basic Rights Oregon, Nike isn’t the only big-name Oregon-based business to support "workplace fairness and nondiscrimination legislation. Other supportive businesses include Columbia Sportswear Co., Providence Health System, Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo. Still, many of Oregon's largest business lobbying organizations have remained neutral on the impending bills. According to The Oregonian, local businesses are closely watching the civil unions bill because they fear it may require them to extend health insurance, family leave and other benefits to committed same-sex couples. They're also aware that an anti-discrimination bill proposed in Washington state created a public relations nightmare for Microsoft that included boycott threats. Basic Rights Oregon defines SB 1000 as "a civil contract entered into by two members of the same sex who are at least 17 years of age and are not first cousins or nearer of kin, and are not parties to a marriage or another civil union." SB 1000 would also amend Oregon's existing nondiscrimination laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment, public accommodation, education and public services. Senate President Kate Brown, D-Portland, said SB 1000's anti-discriminatory provisions will lay down clearer rules for businesses. "It would provide for uniformity and consistency around the state, which will make it easier to do business," she said. "Right now, there's a patchwork of anti-discriminatory laws." SB 1073, the civil unions bill, is likely to pass in the Democrat-led Senate, said The Oregonian but it faces hurdles in the Republican-controlled House. A nondiscrimination bill also may have a difficult time passing. If SB 1073 passes, Oregon would become the third state to have a civil unions law offering same-sex couples many of the same benefits married couples receive. The Oregon Supreme Court last week further invalidated 3,022 same-sex marriage licenses issued last March in Multnomah County. A statewide poll released Monday showed there is more support than opposition among Oregon voters for civil unions. The survey, conducted by Riley Research Associates, found that 49 percent of Oregon voters support civil unions -- compared to 30 percent opposed and 21 percent undecided. The poll's margin of error is 4.5 percent.
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