With a vote of 21 to 16, the Rhode Island Senate approved a measure to grant
. . . legal rights to same-sex partners “without the historical and religious meaning associated with the word marriage,” a statement from the Rhode Island General Assembly said.
“We have made great progress in our goal of providing increased rights, benefits and protections for gay and lesbian couples,” [Democratic state Rep. Peter Petrarca, the bill’s sponsor said]
The bill, writes my friend Dale Carpenter
manages to do what nobody else has done: unite supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage. Marriage Equality Rhode Island says it establishes “second-class citizenry.” The National Organization for Marriage says it is “disappointing and dangerous.” Caught in the middle were legislators, including the openly gay head of the state house, and Governor Lincoln Chafee (expected to sign the bill), who predicted this was the most they could do for at least a couple of years.
The New York Times reports that the legislation “was offered as a compromise this spring after Gordon D. Fox, the openly gay speaker of the Democratic-controlled House, said he could not muster enough votes to pass a same-sex marriage bill.” Despite this compromise, we learn in a press release from “Freedom to Marry” that gay marriage advocates are asking the Ocean State’s governor to veto the bill:
. . . Freedom to Marry and the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) sent a letter late yesterday evening to Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee calling on him to veto the civil union bill currently under consideration if it comes to his desk in its present form. The bill contains a provision that would allow religious organizations and their employees to disregard couples’ civil union status, creating unprecedented, onerous and discriminatory hurdles for same-sex couples seeking to take care of one another.
The bill may be imperfect, but that provision answers the objection many people of faith offer to state recognition of same-sex unions. They can’t complain that the state is forcing them to acknowledge unions at odds with their creed. It preserves their freedom while giving benefits to same-sex couples.
This is something to celebrate. The elected legislature of the state with the second highest proportion of Catholics in its population voted to recognize and accord benefits to same-sex unions.
And anyway, so what if the state is not calling the unions “marriages”? Our self-worth shouldn’t be tied up in the word a state uses to define our relationships.
FROM THE COMMENTS: TGC offers:
Marriage Equality Rhode Island says it establishes “second-class citizenry.”
They make themselves “second-class citizens” and they revel in it. Wouldn’t have anything to bitch about or fund raise for if they didn’t.
He’s got a point; they’re the ones saying we’re second-class citizens.