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RI Considering Civil Unions as Alternative to Marriage Equality

Rhode Island lawmakers are reportedly considering the separate-but-not-equal option of civil unions over marriage equality, the AP reports:

Ri A House committee will review legislation Tuesday that would allow civil unions between any two individuals who cannot legally marry. Partners in a civil union would enjoy many of the rights of married couples when it comes to insurance, health care decisions, inheritance and property ownership.

Civil unions would be restricted to anyone older than 18 who cannot legally marry their partner. That includes same-sex couples and relatives, such as elderly, unmarried siblings who wish to secure legal rights to make medical decisions for each other.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin visited the state last week to encourage lawmakers not to take a "half-step", and to pass marriage equality.

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  1. This just in, most legislators are completely spineless when it comes to gay rights.

    What's really fascinating that in these states where there is a majority who support marriage equality, such as R.I., N.Y. and MD, there is still so much literal fear to take that step to just grant marriage to couples who deserve it. So shameful.

    Posted by: Francis | Apr 5, 2011 10:16:21 AM


  2. Same old, same old. Trotting out the arguments that were made in VT over a decade ago.

    The only reason to exclude gay couples from civil marriage and create an irrational separate category for us (and the infamous maiden aunts) is to label gay couples as less worthy than heterosexual couples, akin, instead, to any 2 adults. (In VT, the number of maiden aunts who took advantage of that law--0.) If you demand marriage equality, maybe we'll give you CUs. If we'd demanded CUs, maybe we'd give you DP's of some kind . . . and so on.

    The other flaw in CUs--beyond their blatant inequality--is that if DOMA is repealed or found unconstitutional, couples who are not married may see no benefits. The status of marriage is clear. The status of CUs and other partnership-lites: not at all clear.

    They should listen to Governor Shumlin and do the right thing now.

    Posted by: Ernie | Apr 5, 2011 10:29:14 AM


  3. cool, so when do the politicians in RI tell the straight people that they will have to get civil unions too? otherwise, you know, that's bigoted, sshhh don't tell them it might hurt their feeling to know they are a$$holes.

    Posted by: mld | Apr 5, 2011 10:39:22 AM


  4. A new relationship status that "normal" heterosexuals cannot enter into. A status created for "others" that are banned from marriage..a staus for non sexual, incestuous and homosexual relationships.... If this were just trying to be libertarian and allow people to make personal decisions for themselves then why ban "normal" heterosexuals? Is it at all a good thing to create a legal status for gays that puts us on par with incest? ........ This bill will never pass, its an attempt by some legislators who dont like us but are idiologically disposed to allowing "individual rights" to make themselves feel better about their future "no" vote on marriage.. "hey, I tried to help..."

    Posted by: Dana | Apr 5, 2011 12:01:22 PM


  5. Fascinating that the proposed civil union bill would permit civil unions between relatives or friends. Although likely fueled by homophobia, it would be perhaps a more radical victory by allowing greater freedom in defining one's family.

    Posted by: rk | Apr 5, 2011 12:01:36 PM


  6. Any bet that the homophobic Catholic Bishops and clergy will oppose civil unions as well? NOM is opposed to civil unions. Mormons are opposed to civil unions. The RC bishops opposed civil unions in IL. Religious bigots don't want recognition of any kind for same sex relationships or families. They love us so much they believe in a god that would send us to hell forever for loving. So it is best for the legislators to skip the civil unions step and go straight to marriage equality. They won't make friends of the right wingers either way.

    Posted by: John Patrick | Apr 5, 2011 1:45:16 PM


  7. @RK: It's definitely fueled by homophobia. The proponents of this want to keep heterosexuals on a superior level by reducing committed gay relationships to the equivalent of a relationship between any 2 adults. It's intended as a condescending slap in the face. Whatever freedoms it would give people to define their families (as I mentioned, no one took advantage of these any-2-people benefits in VT when they were offered) can't cover up the fact that excluding gay couples from civil marriage does not give them the basic freedom to marry that heterosexual couples take for granted.

    Posted by: Ernie | Apr 5, 2011 5:12:10 PM


  8. This is rather sad, considering that the Rhode Island legislature is overwhelmingly Democratic. I believe they have a supermajority.

    Posted by: Chance | Apr 5, 2011 6:26:04 PM


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