R.I. House to Hold Civil Unions Hearing

BY Julie Bolcer

May 11 2011 10:05 AM ET

The Rhode Island house judiciary committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on a civil unions bill proposed by lawmakers who said marriage equality lacked the support needed to pass.

According to the Associated Press, “The civil union legislation would extend all of the state rights and benefits given to married couples in Rhode Island. But at least some gay marriage supporters say they won't support any proposal setting up a two-tiered system.”

Last month, house speaker Gordon Fox, who is gay, proposed the civil unions measure after declaring that a marriage equality bill would not pass his chamber. Senate president Teresa Paiva-Weed, a marriage equality opponent, supports civil unions, and prospects for the legislation appear favorable despite opposition from the Roman Catholic Church and National Organization for Marriage.

The Rhode Island house and senate held hearings this year on the marriage equality bill, but no votes were taken. National and local marriage equality advocates criticized the decision to change course and settle for civil unions, which Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont called a “half step” in visit to the state in March to rally for marriage.





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