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Is Rhode Island Next?

Jim Burroway

February 16th, 2012

The Providence Journal reports:

Rep. Frank Ferri, D-Warwick, and Sen. Josh Miller, D-Cranston, will introduce a bill to repeal a controversial section of Rhode Island’s new civil-unions law that exempts religious organizations from recognizing same-sex unions.

Rep. Art Handy, D-Cranston, and Sen. Rhoda Perry, D-Providence, will submit a proposal to grant gay couples the right to marry.

And Rep. Larry Valencia, D-Richmond, and Sen. Donna Nesselbush, D-Pawtucket, will submit legislation allowing gay couples married in other states to divorce in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island’s deeply unpopular civil union law, which went into effect last summer, includes an extraordinarily broad religious exemption provision that extends far beyond protecting churches from being required to recognize civil unions. It actually had the effect of reversing several employment and other non-discrimination protections that LGBT people had until then already enjoyed under state law before civil unions went into effect. It’s a major reason why LGBT groups in Rhode Island opposed the law and urged Gov. Lincoln Chafee to veto it. Two months later, only nine Rhode Island couples bothered to become civil-unioned. By November, that number had skyrocketed. To thirty-nine.

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