However, there's little chance of passage in the House, where Republican leaders said the bill won't reach the floor for a vote this session.
Despite that, Senate Democrats had the votes in their chamber and seized the symbolic and political opportunity to put civil unions and anti-discrimination protections up for public debate.
Several senators reflected on past battles waged to gain civil rights protections for minorities and women. Although those protections took a long time to win, they argued that government must support acceptance over intolerance and that Oregon must lead the way.
If the bill were to become law, Oregon would be the third state to offer same-sex couples many of the same protections that married couples receive.
Republicans are stalling this as long as they can. Next session will be a battle worth watching in the House, the measure will probably fail, but the public debate will be interesting, and a political winner for supporters of equal protection of the laws.