Same-sex marriage advocate group wants civil union bill vetoed


Marriage Equality of Rhode Island called on Gov. Lincoln Chafee Tuesday to veto a proposal to allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, which is still under consideration in the Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote Wednesday on the civil union bill. If the committee endorses the legislation, it will head to the full Senate for a final vote.

The bill includes restrictions allowing people to ignore a union if they work for a religious organization.

“In reality what it does is it allows private and religious organizations to pro-actively discriminate against a minority class of citizens,” said Ray Sullivan of Marriage Equality of Rhode Island. “If they can’t remove the language, then we are asking the governor to do the right thing and veto the bill.”

Traditional marriage advocates also object to the bill, saying the protections for opponents of civil unions don’t go far enough.

“For example, in New Mexico, a wedding photographer was asked to do a civil union ceremony and she refused based on her religious beliefs. She was successfully sued for discrimination,” said Christopher Plante of the National Organization of Marriage.

The House easily passed the civil union bill earlier in the year after leading lawmakers said same-sex marriage legislation lacked the votes to pass.

The measure would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions offering the same state rights and benefits given to married couples under Rhode Island law.

A spokesman for Chafee said that while the governor’s aware of the concerns expressed by Marriage Equality of Rhode Island he’s inclined to sign the bill as it stands now, saying it’s a step in the march toward same-sex marriage.

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