By: Shannon Ralph
On Saturday, Rhode Island became the fifth state to approve civil unions. Despite calls from a number of LGBT groups to veto the civil unions bill, Governor Chafee signed it into law. Though he supports same-sex marriage, Governor Chafee signed the civil unions law, stating that he did so because he wanted to make certain that gay and lesbian citizens of Rhode Island were afforded the same “tangible rights and benefits” granted to opposite-sex couples.
LGBT civil rights groups and Governor Chafee agreed that there were two major flaws with the new law. Religious bodies can choose not to recognize civil unions and it does not provide full marriage equality to same-sex couples. Civil rights groups argued that the law contains a provision that would allow religious organizations and their employees to disregard couples’ civil union status, thereby creating unprecedented and discriminatory hurdles for same-sex couples.
Rhode Island joins Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey in allowing civil unions. Same-sex marriage has been approved in six states and the District of Columbia. Thirty-nine states still have discriminatory marriage practices.
The idea that “something is better than nothing” certainly leaves a bad taste in my mouth. What about you?