R.I. Legislature Passes Civil Unions Bill

And manages to do what nobody else has done: unite supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage.  Marriage Equality Rhode Island says it establishes “second-class citizenry.”  The National Organization for Marriage says it is “disappointing and dangerous.”  Caught in the middle were legislators, including the openly gay head of the state house, and Governor Lincoln Chafee (expected to sign the bill), who predicted this was the most they could do for at least a couple of years. 

The main issue for the major national gay-rights groups, expressed in a letter to the governor urging a veto, is the breadth of the religious-objector exemptions in the bill.  Every new state proposal to recognize same-sex relationships seems to raise the bar higher for these exemptions, and it appears the bar is now too high for these groups.  I haven’t seen the language yet so I won’t offer an opinion here on the weight of their concerns.