Saturday, July 02, 2011

RI Governor Signs Civil Unions Into Law

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chaffee (I) has signed into law a bill that would allow gay couples to enter into civil unions.

The civil unions bill - which many LGBT advocacy groups opposed because they set up a separate and unequal institution for gay couples and allow religious institutions overly broad exemptions from recognizing those couples - came on the heels of a failed gay marriage law, which failed to muster enough votes in the State Senate after being passed by the State House.

At the bill signing, Chaffee agreed that the religious exemptions are too broad but added that the civil unions legislation "provides a foundation from which we will continue to fight for full marriage equality."

I applaud Rhode Island for passing legislation that will extend legal rights to gay couples - but this legislation does not go far enough in procuring true and full equality for LGBT people.  The state of Rhode Island needs marriage equality, just like every state does, and we need to push harder than ever for gay marriage in one of only two states in New England that don't provide marriage equality (the other being Maine).  That is why we need to ensure that anti-equality legislators in the Rhode Island state legislature get kicked out of office come 2012 to pave the way for marriage in the Ocean State.