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06/29/2011

Rhode Island civil unions: The bill that nobody wants

by Jeremy Hooper

In a very interesting turn of events, a coalition of LGBT advocacy groups (American Civil Liberties Union, Family Equality Council, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Freedom to Marry, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Marriage Equality Rhode Island, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force) are encouraging Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee to veto the civil unions legislation that might hit his desk, due to the overreaching religious exemptions attached to it. A snippet:

Dear Governor Chafee:

We greatly appreciate your strong support for the freedom to marry, and understand that you had previously expressed a willingness to sign a civil union bill as an incremental, if incomplete, step forward. The bill put forth by the legislature, however, would create onerous and discriminatory hurdles for same-­‐sex couples that no other state has ever put in place. As a result, we ask you to veto the bill should it come to your desk in its present form.

In their relationship recognition laws, many states have sought to secure equality for same-­‐sex couples while vigilantly maintaining religious liberty protections. Indeed, while ending discrimination against same-­‐sex couples in civil marriage, the legislatures of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut reaffirmed that clergy and religious entities remain free not to solemnize or celebrate any wedding they do not wish to. The Rhode Island bill, however, goes far beyond this limited and reasonable assurance to allow religious organizations and their individual employees to completely disregard the validity of a civil union in any context.
FULL LETTER: Freedom To Marry (pdf)
MORE: National Marriage Groups Ask Chafee to Veto Civil Union Bill [FTM]
(H/t: Joe.My.God.)

So even though it's for very different reasons, essentially NOM and the LGBT groups are seeking the exact same outcome on this bill. Isn't that one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Break

*UPDATE, via Towle:
Rhode Island Senate Passes Civil Union Bill 21-16 [Towleroad]

This one could get interesting. Obviously the goal is to protect families. But at what cost?

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