Thursday, June 30, 2011

Equality in Rhode Island....sort of?

The Rhode Island Senate has passed a civil unions bill and Governor Lincoln Chafee is expected to sign it.  However, a group of marriage advocates, including Marriage Equality Rhode Island, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Freedom to Marry and the American Civil Liberties Union, have sent a letter to the governor asking him to veto the bill and demand that the legislature pass full marriage equality.  According to The Providence Journal,

In a two-page letter sent to the governor, the groups said the bill — scheduled for a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Wednesday afternoon — “represents a huge step backward from Rhode Island’s longstanding nondiscrimination commitments” and provides “individuals and institutions a free-floating license to discriminate against a whole class of people, in defiance of general law.”

“This amendment could allow individuals, who are legally required to recognize everyone else’s legal commitments, to opt out of doing so only for gay and lesbian people,” the groups wrote. “In practical terms, this law could allow religiously affiliated hospitals to deny a civil union’s spouse’s right to be by his spouse’s side and make medical decisions for him.”

The National Organization for Marriage, naturally, says the religious protections don't go far enough.  There has been no response from the Governor's office.