RI House Approves Seperate But Not Equal Civil Unions For Gays and Lesbians

After much controversy which included rumors of Marriage Equality Rhode Island—of actually undermining the cause and striking a backroom deal for Civil Unions,  The Rhode Island House has overwhelmingly approved civil unions for gays and lesbians by a vote of 62-11. 

Gay marriage supporters said civil unions treat gay couples as second-class citizens. Many lawmakers said they agreed, but said they couldn’t vote against giving gay couples many more rights than they currently receive.  Rep. Frank Ferri, D-Warwick, is openly gay and said the House endorsement of civil unions was bittersweet.  “Today I’m being asked to choose between equality and rights,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that families like mine need these rights.”

Gay marriage advocates tried unsuccessfully to resurrect the gay marriage legislation during House debate. But their procedural move failed after House Speaker Gordon Fox, who is openly gay, (and a traitor)  ruled it out of order. A vote to overrule Fox failed 23-47

The bill will now go to the state Senate, where it is expected to pass and Gov. Lincoln Chafee has promised to sign it.

This is a strange and dangerous end to this saga.  Rhode Island was to supposed to be a “slam dunk” for gay marriage passage as was Delaware another state that went with civil unions instead of gay marriage.

One really has to wonder about these gay politicians and advocates who “settle”.  If they were African American and this was about black civil rights would they be content sitting in the middle of the bus?

We’re falling into a very dangerous pattern here.  One that can really impede our advancement  for full equality.

If you settle for less that’s what you get.  Less.  You also send a very dangerous message to your opponents that you are fine with that so they will drag their feet and never give you more.


Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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