A logo for the marriage equality campaign in Rhode Island.
Same-sex couples suffered a bitter legislative defeat in Rhode Island on Wednesday night when a bill allowing only civil unions—but not marriage—passed the state Senate, less than one week after New York granted gays and lesbians the right to marry.
The prospects for gay marriage had looked good over the past year, with Gordon D. Fox, the openly gay speaker of the Democratic-controlled state House of Representatives, and independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee supporting a marriage bill. Critics of Wednesday’s action are unhappy because civil unions do not give couples the full legal rights granted by married status, saying that they “establish a second-class citizenry.” —ARK
The New York Times:
Less than a week after same-sex marriage was legalized in New York, the Rhode Island State Senate on Wednesday evening approved a bill allowing not marriage, but civil unions for gay couples, despite fierce opposition from gay rights advocates who called the legislation discriminatory.
The bill, which already passed in the state’s House of Representatives and which the governor said he was likely to sign, grants gay and lesbian couples most of the rights and benefits that Rhode Island provides married couples. It 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.
... Gay rights advocates say the bill is unacceptable because it allows religious organizations not to recognize the unions. For example, they say, a Catholic hospital could choose not to allow a lesbian to make medical decisions on behalf of her partner, and a Catholic university could deny family medical leave to gay employees.