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MERI calls civil unions “unacceptable”; cites disappointment in Fox

April 27, 2011

Marriage Equality Rhode Island, the leading advocacy group for same-sex marriage, has issued the following statement in response to House Speaker Gordon Fox’s backing of civil union legislation:

The Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI) board of directors issued a statement expressing staunch opposition to civil unions now being supported by Speaker Gordon Fox and restated their support for full marriage equality for same-sex couples in Rhode Island.

“Civil unions are unacceptable because they marginalize gay and lesbian couples in very significant ways. The General Assembly will essentially be legalizing a two-class system that subjects thousands of Rhode Island same-sex couples to discrimination.  We cannot support legislation that establishes a second class of citizens in Rhode Island,” said Martha Holt, chair of MERI’s board of directors.

There are 1,138 federal laws and programs in which marriage is a factor.  People in civil unions will not be eligible for these benefits or protections even if the federal Defense of Marriage Act ceases to exist.

The word marriage is itself a protection.  People with civil unions need to explain themselves to emergency room personnel, relatives, school officials, and bureaucracies.  People who are married do not.

“Civil unions are a compromise for no one.  Advocates both for and against marriage equality have clearly expressed their opposition to the half measure of civil unions,” said Holt. “We are extremely disappointed in the lack of leadership at the State House and we would urge Speaker Fox to rethink sponsoring legislation that would create a second class of citizens.”

“Marriage Equality Rhode Island is fully entrenched and will remain in this fight until all of Rhode Island’s couples are treated equally under the law.  Half measures and second-class rights will not appease us,” added Holt.

Marriage Equality Rhode Island volunteers are actively engaged throughout Rhode Island and have been for months.  Volunteers are mobilized in every legislative district in Rhode Island, including those of House Speaker Fox and Senate President Paiva-Weed.

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