language in the Civil Unions bill (HB 6103) before the Rhode Island
legislature is unacceptable.
We almost won marriage equality last month, but the bill faltered
at the last minute. It may seem as though this civil unions bill is
a step in the right direction-
but the cost is too high:
The Corvese amendment was purported to be about
providing additional exemptions and protections to faith
organizations, but in reality, it would allow any
religiously-affiliated organization, including hospitals, day care
centers, schools or cemeteries to openly and intentionally
discriminate against civil union spouses. This means that
hospitals, like Our Lady of Fatima or St. Joseph’s, could refuse
to allow a spouse to visit their dying partner or make medical
decisions in an emergency situation.
Many other states have sought to secure equality for same-sex
couples while protecting religious liberty — but the religious
exemption language in this civil unions bill goes too far. If
passed in its current form, the bill would create unprecedented
discriminatory hurdles for same-sex couples that no other
state has ever put in place!
“Rhode Island has always been a beacon of protecting
the separation of church and state,” said Marc Solomon, national
campaign director for Freedom to Marry.
“Unfortunately, the pending Rhode Island legislation flies in the
face of that proud history. It adds insult to injury by enshrining
civil union, a separate-and-unequal status, in law while granting
license to religious organizations and their employees to
discriminate against same-sex couples. We know that Rhode Island
can do better.”
This is not the best we can do for our families. I’m proud to
be a Rhode Islander because I know how much we value our families
and how much we value fairness. This bill is not good for us, not
good for our families, and not good for Rhode Island.
I know we can do better.
-Heron Greenesmith, Legislative Counsel