June 29th, 2011
08:34 PM ET

Rhode Island legislature passes same-sex civil union bill

Less than a week after New York became the nation's sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage, Rhode Island state lawmakers on Wednesday voted in favor of a bill that permits civil unions between gay and lesbian couples.

The measure, which passed the state Senate by a count of 21-16, is widely seen as a compromise intended to provide same-same couples with added rights and benefits, while also preventing an expanded legal definition of marriage.

The legislation, which passed overwhelmingly in the state's lower house on May 19, affords same-sex couples a host of new state tax breaks, health-care benefits and greater ease of inheritance.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, is expected to sign the bill into law, according to his spokesman, Michael Trainor. If signed, the law would take effect on July 1, making Rhode Island the fifth state in the country to allow civil unions between same-sex couples.

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Filed under: Rhode Island
soundoff (189 Responses)
  1. popeye1128

    Everyone, gay or straight, should get a civil union license given out by the state/feds. Let churches 'marry' people if they want let JP's sanction the civil unions. Who cares, amend all the laws that say 'married' to 'civil union or married' with one blanket amendment to state and federal laws. Done.

    June 29, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Congratulations to Rhode Island!
    Go all the way soon.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MushAllDay

    @Gary, You da man! Great thoughts

    June 29, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    You aren't right in your mind, simpleton.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Unknown

    Guess who else cannot reproduce, the elderly. Can they still merry?

    June 29, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nosodomites

    In Flyover country, this will never occur. Nunca. Corral them in Cali, Illi, & NY City!

    June 29, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dingo ate my baby

      What if them ends up being your son or daughter?

      June 29, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarrotCakeMan

      Iowa has had marriage equality since 2009.


      June 30, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. George

    Civil unions are a cop out. Marriage is equality and that is what is called for. Nothing more. Nothing less. Rhode Island is too progressive a state to do this halfway. The land of Roger Williams is the birthplace of religious and cultural freedom and should be continuing that tradition, not playing into the fears of idiots.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Why is there any need to 'benefit nature'? There are plenty of people in the world, honey. There's no shortage to try to make up. And there are millions of couples who marry and either can't have or don't want any kids. You have a beef with them, too?

    June 29, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mrmailman


    June 29, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cobby

      San Francisco is not a state.

      June 29, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jsnides


    June 29, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. LargeNcharge

    You 'Blue States' are really short on logic lately.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Franque

      Yeah, come to Georgia. We'll impress you with our logic!

      June 29, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dingo ate my baby

    Can we please have a party that is fiscally moderate and socially libertarian. What consenting adults do is between them and two loving parents should be able to adopt. We will never have a shortage of homeless children and the likely hood of a straight man becoming a pedophile is just as high if not much higher depending on the study than gay men. Lets create as many liberties as we can. If the law does not physically protect other people or their property then there is a 90% chance it is a bad law. Now lets cut the deficit in an intelligent way and eventually balance the budget.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • KateOSee

      Unfortunately, there is way too much common sense in what you say for it to ever be a reality.

      June 29, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. iBod

    The world population is seven billion...I think the human race can survive with the equal right to be with whatever gender we choose....speaking from a straight dude, and a biology major...

    June 29, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dustin

    And how does it benefit nature when a man and a woman who can't conceive marry? Truth be told, married couples – straight and gay alike – don't marry out of a desire to benefit nature or your ideals...they do so out of love, an emotion which is rendered possible thanks to biology.

    The world's filled with people...don't worry – the gay's aren't going to destroy nature before we do!

    June 29, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Franque

    John, when you touch yourself, watching p0rn, you're having relations with a man. ewww. gross.

    June 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
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