Governor of Rhode Island signs civil union law, but says it’s not Enough

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Rhode Island

Rhode IslandRhode Island’s governor has signed a law legalizing same sex civil unions, but said it does not go far enough toward legalizing gay marriage. He says it moves Rhode Island closer toward their goal of gay marriage. Governor Chafee, supports gay marriage. Chafee had two major criticisms of the civil union bill, that it failed to provide full marriage equality to same-sex couples and that it allowed religious entities to choose to not recognize civil unions. 

Rhode Island Governor says "We will continue to fight for full marriage equality."

Rhode Island Governor says “We will continue to fight for full marriage equality.”

Chafee said he signed the civil unions bill with “reservations” 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.”

Describing the proposal that passed in theSenate this week as “a step forward,” he said it did not fully achieve its goals of giving same gender pairs the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities as married couples. The new law includes a section that says no religious organization – including some hospitals, cemeteries, schools and community centers – or its employees may be required to treat as valid any civil union, providing a religious exemption “of unparalleled and alarming scope,” Chafee said in a statement.

As a result, a civil union spouse could be denied the right to make medical decisions for his or her partner, access to health insurance benefits, property rights in adjoining burial plots or family memberships at some community centers. That could cause partners significant harm at critical moments in their lives, the governor said.

“This extraordinary exemption eviscerates the important rights that enacting a civil union law was meant to guarantee for same sex couples in the first place,” Chafee said.

 

Rhode IslandRhode Island’s governor has signed a law legalizing same sex civil unions, but said it does not go far enough toward legalizing gay marriage. He says it moves Rhode Island closer toward their goal of gay marriage. Governor Chafee, supports gay marriage. Chafee had two major criticisms of the civil union bill, that it failed to provide full marriage equality to same-sex couples and that it allowed religious entities to choose to not recognize civil unions.