Rhode Island Allows Civil Unions
Special Report - July 5, 2011
On July 1, Rhode Island became the eighth state to legalize same-sex civil unions, in the second major victory for homosexual rights activists in as many weeks. Independent Governor Lincoln Chafee signed H6103An Act Relating to Domestic Relations-Civil Unions on Saturday while opining that it did not go far enough by not legalizing same-sex “marriage” (SSM). He expressed confidence that it moves Rhode Island closer to joining the seven jurisdictionsConnecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, D.C., and New York just last weekthat currently recognize SSM. Rhode Island joins Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, and Delaware in granting most of the privileges associated with marriage to unmarried couples through civil unions.
According to Reuters, Governor Chafee said he signed the bill because it “brings tangible rights and benefits to thousands of Rhode Islanders. It also provides a foundation from which we will continue to fight for full marriage equality.” The bill states that civil unions confer on the members the same “rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities” as those afforded to married persons.
Both marriage defenders and homosexual activists opposed the bill. National Organization for Marriage-Rhode Island executive director Chris Plante warned, “The passage of Civil Unions presents a clear threat to the definition of marriage and the religious liberties of tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders.” Chafee joined homosexual rights groups in complaining that the bill’s religious exemption provision that prevents any religious organization or its employees from being forced to participate in or recognize any civil union is an overly broad evisceration of the bill’s intention.
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