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R.I. Gov Signs Civil Unions Law

R.I. Gov Signs Civil Unions Law

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Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee Saturday signed into law a controversial civil unions bill that failed to please many gay activists, who had hoped for marriage rights instead and objected to the bill's broad exemptions for religious institutions.

Chafee, an independent who supports marriage equality, said at the signing that he sympathized with the criticism of the civil unions bill, but he also said it "brings tangible rights and benefits to thousands of Rhode Islanders," the Associated Press reports.

He added, "I remain committed to the passage of marriage equality, but democracy is about compromise. I am convinced that Rhode Island will someday have full marriage equality, and I intend to play a role in that effort."

Legislators including House speaker Gordon Fox, who is gay, had promoted a marriage equality bill earlier this year, but dropped the effort in favor of civil unions because the marriage bill appeared to have little chance of passing.

The civil unions legislation contains an exemption that says no religious organization or its employees would be required to recognize such unions, meaning they could deny numerous spousal benefits to gay employees. Some LGBT activists had called on the governor to veto the bill. He acknowledged that the exemption is "alarming," but he said the establishment of civil unions "provides a foundation from which we will continue to fight for full marriage equality."

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.