Standing up for marriage in Rhode Island

By Jamie Thilman, Freedom to Marry's Communications Intern 
 
Last week, Democratic Speaker of the Rhode Island House, Gordon Fox, announced that he would abandon a push to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, claiming such a bill lacks any "realistic chance" of passing this year. Instead, the openly gay speaker has opted to put forth a bill that would legalize civil union. As a result, hundreds of Rhode Islanders who are unwilling to accept second-class status for their fellow citizens are expected to let their voices be heard at a rally to be held today, Tuesday, May 3, at 4:30pm outside the Statehouse.  

Time and again states that have created civil union as a means of both giving and withholding – providing select legal protections while withholding the freedom to marry and all its meaning – have found that civil union falls far short of marriage with all its tangible and intangible significance in our lives.  Many of those states – Connecticut, New Hampshire, and even Vermont, which first created civil union – have since pushed past civil union to marriage, recognizing the inadequacy and unfairness of a separate and unequal status. Just last August, a credible poll concluded that nearly 60% of Rhode Islanders believe in the freedom to marry, and with unwavering support from Governor Lincoln Chafee, now is the time to grant same-sex couples all the rights, responsibilities, and protections that only a marriage can provide.