Marriage Advocates Call on RI Gov. Chafee to Veto Civil Union Bill

6/29/2011


Discriminatory carve-outs could keep partners from making emergency medical decisions


Press Contacts:
Jackie Yodashkin, Freedom to Marry, jackie@freedomtomarry.org, 917-620-4502
Carisa Cunningham, GLAD, ccunningham@glad.org, 617-426-1350
 

(New York, NY, June 29, 2011) – On the heels of a marriage victory in New York, marriage advocates including Freedom to Marry and the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) sent a letter late yesterday evening to Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee calling on him to veto the civil union bill currently under consideration if it comes to his desk in its present form.  The bill contains a provision that would allow   religious organizations and their employees to disregard couples’ civil union status, creating unprecedented, onerous and discriminatory hurdles for same-sex couples seeking to take care of one another.

“This flawed civil union bill undermines a crucial principle that Rhode Island has always stood for -- respecting the separation of church and state,” said Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director for Freedom to Marry.  “Not only does the bill propose a separate-and-unequal status instead of ending the denial of marriage itself, it grants an unprecedented license to discriminate against same-sex couples and their families. Governor Chafee should veto this defective bill and work with the legislature to enact a marriage bill that ends discrimination while preserving religious and personal freedom on equal terms for all.”

The letter, which was signed by groups including Freedom to Marry and GLAD, reads:  

This amendment could allow individuals, who are legally required to recognize everyone else’s legal commitments, to opt out of doing so only for gay and lesbian people.   In practical terms, this law could allow religiously affiliated hospitals to deny a civil union spouse’s right to be by his spouse’s side and make medical decisions for him, and could allow religiously affiliated agencies to deny an employee’s right to leave in order to care for his civil union spouse under Rhode Island Family and Medical Leave. 

To read the full letter and see the full list of signers, click here.

“The Corvese amendment actually diminishes protections already available under Rhode Island law, and is seriously damaging to Rhode Island’s gay and lesbian families. If it becomes law, there is trouble ahead for Rhode Island’s same-sex couples,” said Karen Loewy, Senior Staff Attorney for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.


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Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England's leading legal organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression.