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Rhode Island Governor Says He’s Open To Domestic Partnership Law

Jim Burroway

November 13th, 2009
Gov. Carcieri speaking at the Massachusetts Family Institute banquet

Gov. Carcieri speaking at the Massachusetts Family Institute banquet

Last Tuesday, Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri (R) vetoed a bill that would have added domestic partners to the list of people who are allowed to make funeral arrangements for each other. Now the Providence Journal reports that “a conciliatory” Governor Carcieri told a gay-rights group that he is willing to consider an “almost anything but marriage” domestic partnership law. Carcieri reportedly said this after meeting privately yesterday for more than an hour in his office with a representatives of Queer Action of Rhode Island. Carcieri reportedly cited the domestic partnerships law that won voter approval in Washington as a possible model:

“I don’t know enough, yet. All I am saying is I understand the circumstances. I understand the difficulties” that can arise for same-sex couples and others — such as widows living with widowers, and widows with other widows — outside the legal framework of a traditional marriage.

“Let’s see if we can find a way to solve that without discreet [pieces] of legislation every time something comes up. I just don’t think that is the right way to deal with it,” he said.

Following Carcieri’s veto, Queer Action issued a statement calling him a bigot and said that his repeated claims “that he does not discriminate against gay people” was proven to be a lie by his veto. Susan Heroux, spokesperson for Queer Action, said, “First, the governor raises money for an anti-gay hate group in another state, and now he proves that he is motivated more by bigotry than caring for his fellow citizens with this veto action.” Carcieri was the keynote speaker at a banquet for the Massachusetts Family Institute on October 15.

Heroux was pleased with the yesterday’s meeting with Gov. Carcieri. Also present at the meeting was Mark Goldberg, whose five-week battle with the Rhode Island Health Department to claim the body of his partner of 17 years from the state morgue, had sparked the legislation. The state refused to release the body despite all of the legal paperwork — wills, living wills, power of attorney and a marriage certificate from Massachusetts — that Goldberg had provided. Carcieri said he could not understand the Health Department’s handling of the case, and would ask his staff to look into it.

The bill to allow domestic partners to make funeral arrangements for each other passed the state house on a 63-1 vote, and passed the Senate unanimously. House and Senate leaders are considering an override of the governor’s veto.

Comments

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Timothy Kincaid
November 13th, 2009 | LINK

I’m suspicious. A careful review of Carcieri’s language reveals his agenda:

I understand the difficulties” that can arise for same-sex couples and others — such as widows living with widowers, and widows with other widows — outside the legal framework of a traditional marriage.

This is language that suggests to me that he will only support benefits that are non-partner related. And attempts by the legislature to enact domestic partner status that is based on defacto families will be suspect.

Only language similar to Hawaii’s “any two random people” from college roommates to brothers is likely to appeal to Carcieri. He’s too busy “protecting the definition of marriage” to ever allow an institution that would recognize same-sex couples as similar in any way to God-ordained, Church-blessed, REAL couples, ya know.

Or so I suspect. I will be delighted to be wrong.

Ephilei
November 13th, 2009 | LINK

I’m suspicious why someone who opposes funeral benefits would support all domestic partnership benefits, which would include those same funeral benefits. Either there’s some legal subtlety I don’t understand or this is just politicking.

Rebecca
November 13th, 2009 | LINK

In favor of domestic partnerships. Suuuuuuuure, Carcieri, who just vetoed a law to allow gay people to bury their partners.

Burr
November 13th, 2009 | LINK

Either there’s some legal subtlety I don’t understand or this is just politicking.

Well if we are to take him at his word, he said the reason he vetoed the funeral arrangements measure was because he didn’t want to start a precedent of crafting law for each and every benefit.

However, in his veto he also suggested that any all-in-one remedy to disparities be voted on by the state at-large, which makes his new assertion of being open to legislation a headscratcher.

Dan
November 13th, 2009 | LINK

If gay people are allowed to bury their dead partners, then school children could be taught about homosexual funerals.

CB
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

He’s running for re-election and doesn’t want to sound like a bigot. He’s done nothing for the gay community, but now that he’s in election mode, time to put out the lies. If he gets re-elected, I would bet that he gives the gay community the shaft. His opponent stated that he would’ve signed the funeral bill, now, suddenly Carcieri is trying to be a friend. FIGURE THE ODDS!

Mike Airhart
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

Minor nitpick: Carcieri can’t run for re-election. He’s a lame-duck governor being pushed out by term limits.

The purpose of these recent actions is to improve his image on the Christian Right and conservative Catholic speaker circuit.

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