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Rhode Island Senate Committee Takes Up Civil Unions Bill

Rhode Island Senate Committee Takes Up Civil Unions Bill

Thursday saw the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee hear over three hours of testimony on a controversial civil unions bill that both supporters and opponents of same-sex unions have criticized.

From The Providence Journal:

The hearing drew about 100 people and lasted more than three hours, with speaker after speaker outlining — sometimes in carefully reasoned terms, sometimes in personal and emotional terms — why they oppose the bill.

“In establishing a separate but equal status for gay and lesbian human beings, you will forever designate our totally human and loving lesbian daughter, Luisa, and her equally human and loving lesbian spouse, Brenda, as abnormal creations,” said Anthony DeLuca, of North Kingstown. “Our pain is most palpable and it runs very deeply. Luisa and Brenda are not animals.”

Others said their goal is not to deny rights or hurt people, but to stand up for traditional marriage because it is God’s will and provides the best environment in which to raise children.

“You’re changing the whole complexion of what the word marriage means,” said Ronald L’Heureaux, of the Rhode Island Chapter of the Black Robe Regiment. “You’re forcing us to accept what we deem as immoral.”

The House passed the bill 62 to 11 last month.

Critics say that lawmakers, including openly gay House Speaker Gordon Fox, caved far too quickly to gay marriage foes without giving a marriage equality bill, that currently sits untouched in a House subcommittee, a chance. 

House Speaker Fox said that the Senate leader is on record as against same-sex marriage and that there was “no realistic chance” of passing a same-sex marriage bill this year. In light of this, Fox offered that a civil unions bill is a pragmatic compromise and that some recognition is better than none at all.

Regardless, this dispute led gay marriage advocates to hold a protest upon the bill’s introduction into the General Assembly.

Of course, gay rights detractors have also made their opposition known. Groups like the National Organization for Marriage have said that the bill will be a back-door way to legalizing same-sex marriage through court intervention, and said at Thursday’s senate hearing that the legislation does not go far enough to protect the religious community.  

The senate committee is expected to act on the bill within the next two weeks.

For past coverage of this issue, please click here.


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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Jack Newton.

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8:14AM PDT on Jun 6, 2011

If you truly believe the statement "God makes no mistakes" then the gay community deserve to live their lives as the rest of society does with all the freedoms, rights and pursuits of happiness. Amen

4:36AM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

Let's celebrate our diversity as humans.

4:06AM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

In 2007, on the fortieth anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), which overturned laws barring mixed-race marriages, Mildred Loving, one of the two plaintiffs, said this:

"Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."


1:54AM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

Thanks for the article.

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