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UPDATED: Civil Unions Bill Introduced

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


State Rep Peter Petrarca has introduced legislation to allow civil unions for same-sex couples in Rhode Island.

The legislation grants same-sex couples all of the state rights afforded to married couples in Rhode Island without the historical and religious meaning associated with the word "marriage."

It defines a civil union as a “a legal union between two individuals of the same sex” and those individuals “all the rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities” as those who are married.

"While my bill does not legalize same-sex marriage in the state of Rhode Island, it represents a wave of change and progress in granting same-sex couples equal access to those state rights that married couples hold," said Petrarca D-Dist. 44, Lincoln, Johnston, Smithfield. "By providing increased rights, benefits and protections for gay and lesbian couples, this bill is a step forward to ensuring equality and improving their quality of life."

The bill has been submitted after House Speaker Gordon Fox last week announced he would back a civil unions bill instead of a gay marriage bill.

UDPATE: The National Organization for Marriage-Rhode Island today came out in opposition to the new civil unions bill.

"This bill is an engraved invitation to the courts to impose same-sex marriage," said NOM-RI Executive Director Chris Plante. "[It] fails to protect, indeed, invites the courts to strike down marriage, and offers no realistic religious liberty protection for religious charities, schools, organizations, or for small business owners."

He added: "Like similar legislation enacted in Connecticut and California, the proposed civil union legislation is nothing more than a Trojan Horse that will usher in same-sex marriage sooner rather than later."

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