ACLU renews criticism of civil union law as “a complete failuire”
On the morning of a General Assembly hearing on three separate bills aimed at addressing the inequalities faced by Rhode Island’s same-sex couples, the RI ACLU released statistics today indicating that the state’s “compromise” civil union statute remains “a complete failure.” During the first three months of 2012, the ACLU reported today, only six couples took advantage of the state’s civil union law, which was enacted last year over the strong protests of the state’s gay and lesbian community.
RI executive director Steven Brown said today: “These latest statistics demonstrate beyond any doubt that the civil union statute is a complete failure. If the General Assembly truly cares about ensuring fairness and equality for Rhode Island’s gay and lesbian couples, it will recognize that the time has come for passage of a marriage bill.” The six licenses issued throughout January, February and March mean that in the first nine months since the law has been in effect, a total of only 52 couples have obtained civil union licenses.
Last September, the RI ACLU issued a report that examined twelve other states that in recent years had enacted marriage, civil union or domestic partnership legislation for gay and lesbian couples. The report noted that the initial rate of license issuances in those states, adjusting for population, often exceeded Rhode Island’s rate by a factor of tenfold or more. The report cited a number of reasons why Rhode Island’s statute was being shunned by couples, including the presence of an extremely broad “religious” exemption, known as the “Corvese Amendment,” that significantly undercuts the law’s purpose.
Meanwhile, the National Organization for Marriage yesterday issued an alert, encouraging supporters to tell lawmakers, “Don’t mess with marriage!”
Please make the time to come out and stand for marriage and our religious liberties in Rhode Island. The first bill attempts to redefine marriage for all Rhode Islanders by legalizing homosexual marriage. Further, the effort to allow same-sex couples who were married in other states to get divorced in Rhode Island is simply a back-door means to forcing our courts to recognize homosexual-marriage. Finally, the third bill would prohibit churches and their affiliated organizations from exercising their freedom of religion in matters concerning civil unions.