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.

Forbes reports: Petrarca

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."


  1. luminum says

    Wow, I’m sad I didn’t know about this (though I don’t live in RI, so…)

    As a ploy to circumvent same-sex marriage, this sucks, but for the other individuals it covers, it’s actually the step I’ve been hoping for for a long time.

    Why shouldn’t individuals be allowed to enter into legal contracts to obtain these benefits? If my sister and I depend on each other and she gets sick, why shouldn’t I be legally allowed to extend my health benefits to her? Relationships, both legal and personal, are far more than romantic. There are tons of diads in American life that make perfect sense to extend legal-based protections to.

    Man, sad to see this go down from the same-sex marriage argument.

  2. TonyJ says

    If this was Oklahoma, you’d be lucky if hospital visitation rights were ever granted.

    However, Rhode Island should be a smarter, more educated (and more moral) state. Civil marriage for all adults hould be a given. A ‘half-way’ measure should be unnecessary….

  3. Randy says

    “At least there’s something on the table that makes them somewhat equal.”

    Right. I remember from school, that 349 is somewhat equal to 232.

    Oh, that’s right. NOT equal.

  4. says

    No surprise here.

    We actually enacted these in VT back in 2000, after much debate. They were called “reciprocal beneficiaries.”

    So it became law and maiden aunts or fathers & sons could apply. Guess how many did?

    Zero. Not one. EVER.
    It was only about not allowing queers to have some status (CUs) that straights weren’t allowed to have. Pure entitled symbolism.

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