No Supporters Show for 'Domestic Relations' Bill That Would Make Gays 'Somewhat Equal' in Rhode Island
A hearing was held on Tuesday for HB 5904, an alternative to the marriage equality bill which would grant just some of the benefits of marriage.
No supporters showed up Tuesday to a House committee hearing on the measure, which would extend benefits and rights associated with insurance, health care decisions, inheritance and property ownership to so-called "reciprocal beneficiaries."
The legal relationships would be restricted to anyone older than 18 who cannot legally marry their partner. That includes same-sex couples and relatives, such as unmarried siblings who want the right to make medical decisions for each other.
The Providence Journal reports there were supporters and detractors who spoke on the bill, but no advocacy group showed up:
Marriage Equality Rhode Island, a gay advocacy group, did not attend the hearing and is “not supporting the bill” because it stops short of legalizing same-sex marriage, said its spokesman, Bill Fischer.
Rep. Peter Petrarca (D-Lincoln), a same-sex marriage supporter, reportedly introduced the bill in case the marriage equality bill failed to pass.
Said Petrarca (pictured),: "At least there’s something on the table that makes them somewhat equal. The intent is to have everything on the table, civil unions, reciprocal benefits, gay marriage."