Rhode Island civil unions pass the House

Timothy Kincaid

May 19th, 2011

The Rhode Island House has voted on civil unions and the bill passes 62 to 11.

Democrats voted 56 yes; 8 no; 1 not voting
Republicans voted 6 yes; 3 no; 1 not voting

The bill will pass now go to the Senate where its passage is certain and then it will be signed by the Governor. In the immortal words of Gavin Newsom, it’s going to happen whether you like it or not.

In our frustration with this second class solution in place of what was promised, let’s keep in mind that only three years ago we would have danced in the streets tonight in celebration of a civil unions victory. And come July 1, many gay couples in Rhode Island will have legal rights and security for their relationship that they do not have today.


May 19th, 2011

I know people are upset that it isn’t marriage, but it’s better than nothing. We are moving at a rapid pace, and it won’t be long before marriage is a reality everywhere.

Lindoro Almaviva

May 19th, 2011

Sorry to hijack the threat but this message was posted not long ago in a Post Rapture Looting event on FaceBook. The announcement quoted in full:

OK, I am sorry to disappoint you all but this is an official announcement:

Rapture is off. Lawyers for our unions just pointed to us that according to the contract, Sabbath is a regularly schedule day off and therefore we can not continue with the plans. We understand people will be disappointed but we must follow the tenants spelled …in our contract.

We will continue giving you signs time is near.

In the meantime, we are revising the plans and we have some bigger and flashier things prepared. We are sure you will not be disappointed. In the mean time, enjoy your summer and please do not forget to attend Pride celebrations in your city.

Very interesting they actually acknowledged Pride.


Ok, back to our regular discussion…

Richard Rush

May 19th, 2011

Wait a minute! . . . I guess I haven’t been following this RI story closely, BUT If civil unions passed the House by a lopsided 62/11 vote, and it’s a slam/dunk in the Senate, why did our side capitulate on marriage? Was it because the governor is not willing to sign a marriage bill?

timothy kincaid

May 19th, 2011

Governor Chafee is very willing to sign a marriage bill. he called for one in his inaugural speech and lobbied for its passage.


May 19th, 2011

Not quite ready to feel better about failures today based on how bad things sucked three, five or ten years ago.

I’m a dyed in the wool Democrat but honestly Democrats are disgusting me beyond belief these days; much more so than the Republicans. Republicans never claim to be our “fierce advocates” or even our friends. Democrats talk the talk and then, when they have super, SUPER majorities, just can’t seem to find the votes to pass our basic civil rights.


May 19th, 2011

I know people are upset that it isn’t marriage, but it’s better than nothing.
RI did not have “nothing”. They had full recognition of out of state marriage.


May 20th, 2011

I follow the SSM story closely and I find it really amazing how broad the support for civil unions is in legislatures that give us no end of resistance on marriage. In the last six months, we have had HI, IL, DE, and RI all enact civil unions with hefty majorities. Four states in six months.

And there is little doubt that if the Einsteins in MD had fallen back on civil unions after they lost marriage, they would have won a lopsided victory, with even the vile Sam Arora and Tiffany Alston voting in favor. And in NY, where things are looking a bit grim in our effort to get 32 senate votes, civil unions would probably pass tomorrow with something like 45 votes. Just goes to show the power and significance of the word “marriage”.

I think it is perfectly obvious that we should go for civil unions as an interim measure in all referendum states like MD and in non-referendum states where there is no prospect of legislative approval of SSM. If we had done that in Maine, they would just now be at the point where they could safely upgrade to full marriage.


May 20th, 2011

BTW, Timothy, a new SSM poll came out today and the gay blogosphere hasn’t covered it. So here’s first crack if you want it:


The poll has support for SSM at 51-43, which makes it the 4th or 5th national poll to show support at just over 50 percent. I still don’t buy it, since the nation can’t be at 51% if NY is only at 50-54% and Maine is just south or just north of 50%.

Another scoop for you, if you want it: The University of Iowa recently released one of their well-respected Hawkeye Polls. This one dealt with the 2012 judicial retention election, in which one of the pro-SSM judges will be on the block. But the poll, taken last month at around the 2-year anniversary of the Varnum ruling, also asked about respondents’ views on SSM generally. As it turns out, the Hawkeye poll asked the same question in 2009, just prior to the Varnum ruling.

The comparative result:


2009 – 26.2 %
2011 – 34.9%

Oppose marriage
Support civil unions:

2009 – 27.9%
2011 – 29.7%

Oppose marriage
and civil unions:

2009 – 36.7%
2011 – 31.2%


That’s a nearly 9 point increase in support in 2 years, showing that support increases fastest in those states that adopt SSM. This also thoroughly discredits NOM’s theme of “consequences”. If there had been any “consequences” for public education or religious freedom or for traditional marriage generally, support would have plummeted, not risen by 9 percent.

Tina Wood

May 20th, 2011

Amicus: no, RI did/does not have full recognition of out of state same-sex marriages. The state never passed any legislation granting that, and our courts also have not granted that. (Our previous attorney general issued a vague statement about it which had no legal weight. Our new attorney general had a longstanding anti-LGBT voting record when he was a legislator.) Some couples have found some success in certain cases with having their relationships recognized. But there have been two particularly egregious situations which have illustrated that we have no guarantee of recognition: the case a few years ago where a gay man legally married in Connecticut was not allowed to claim his dead partner’s body, and a case before that which went to our state’s Supreme Court which ruled that RI same-sex couples who legally married out of state cannot get a divorce in Rhode Island (still an ongoing problem.) There is a lot of confusion around the recognition issue because the law is unsettled, so advocates say what they want, and the media repeats it. But these terrible situations carry more weight in my view than unsupported statements by advocates.

Tina Wood

May 20th, 2011

Richard Rush: the votes were not there in the Senate for marriage by my count, but I know of several senators who wouldn’t support marriage but will support civil unions.


May 20th, 2011

It’s a joke. Give this to the queers to shut them up. We’ll keep what’s ours and give them this. We’ll let them use the bus but make them sit in the back. We win but we’ll make them think they have something.


May 20th, 2011

A total of 8 Democrats voted no?? On civil unions?? Until they suffer the political consequences of that vote our progress is going to be stalled for some time

Timothy Kincaid

May 20th, 2011


Thank you. I do want to cover both issues, but I am swamped at work today.


May 20th, 2011


Great. Looking forward to reading your thoughts and typically insightful analysis.

BTW, today Gallup came out with a poll showing a 9-point increase in support for SSM in the last 12 months – an increase that exceeds even the surge in IA. Gallup now puts support at 53-45, bringing it in line with PRRI, CNN, and ABC/WaPo. I believe that PPP also came to the same result using their telephonic survey method, which has been shown to be more accurate in polling on this issue. But for the reason stated above, I still can’t buy it, no matter how many times the result is replicated.



May 20th, 2011

Meanwhile, here in Virginia we can only dream of having civil unions…


May 20th, 2011

Give me a civil union that is recognized federally over a ‘marriage’ that means nothing much where it’s legal beyond being able to have a pretty ceremony.

And yes I’m married. And if you haven’t gone to the trouble of going to Canada or wherever to solemnize your union I don’t want to hear ‘separate but equal’. In NY it means nothing. And I’m sick to death of having to listen to the crap from NOM, et al. I don’t even want to be married any more. I want to have nothing to do with such disgusting people or such a trashy institution. Give me a dignified civil union and make it available to everyone. I’d be a happy man.


May 21st, 2011

JohnAG wrote, “Meanwhile, here in Virginia we can only dream of having civil unions…”

I’ve given up on dreaming about equality in Virginia. Our current Attorney General and Governor are homophobic jerks, the democrats are weenies, and the republicans are gun-totin’, very right-wing fundamentalist tea baggers.

Time to move…

Timothy Kincaid

May 22nd, 2011

Hey Virginians, don’t give up dreaming.

A new WaPo poll shows that our message is being heard in Virginia and that we are actually winning the battle there.

Forty-seven percent of Virginians say gay couples should be allowed to legally wed, and 43 percent are opposed, according to the poll. Fifty-five percent of Virginians say gay couples should be able to legally adopt children.

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