''15-31-1. Purpose of chapter – Rights and related responsibilities. -- (a) The purpose of this chapter is to permit any two (2) unmarried persons who are excluded from entering into a valid marriage under the marriage laws of this state, as specified in the provisions of chapters 15-1, 15-2, and 15-3 of this title, or who are or were related by blood, adoption, or marriage, to establish a reciprocal beneficiary agreement to extend the rights and related responsibilities enumerated in this chapter to each reciprocal beneficiary.''
As Rhode Island is approaching legal marriage for gay and lesbian couples, a hearing was held on a proposed bill that would amend the states laws on "Domestic Relations" to provide same-sex couples with an alternative. The "reciprocal beneficiaries" bill is sponsored by several Democrats and, if passed, it would provide a "half step" by extending health care decisions and inheritance. (State.RI.US)
The Associated Press reports that no supporters of the bill showed up to a hearing on Tuesday.
But last week, it was reported that hundreds of people packed the State House to voice support and opposition to a gay marriage bill. The new governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee (I), has said he will sign the same-sex marriage bill into law. The former Republican Governor Donald Carcieri said he would veto any pro-gay marriage legislation and appeared at a with anti-gay activist Maggie Gallagher in 2009. Opponents of the bill allegedly repeated the ridiculous claims that marriage equality for gays would somehow prevent them from exercising their religious freedoms. (Projo.com)
Chris Plante, a spokesperson for of the National Organization for Marriage (a group dedicated to restricting marriage and legal unions as a heterosexual privilege) claimed to be winning against gay marriage in that state. NOM and other anti-gay groups are beaming about the defeat of gay marriage in Maryland for the rest of 2011.
Plante and others have tried to "divide and conquer" same-sex marriages by claiming gay rights is opposed in large part by both religious people and racial minorities. This time, Plante is saying it is "a blessing" that Hispanic churches specifically are opposing gay marriages there (Christian Broadcast Network):
''Churches in Rhode Island have really come out -- obviously the Catholic Church for the last decade has been the stalwart here. But this year, we've really seen the Hispanic church really rally together here. They brought over 6,000 signatures on a petition against gay marriage to the senate judiciary committee, and that made a huge difference.
''They've had a couple of key leaders in the Hispanic Ministerial Alliance here in Rhode Island who have stood up and really rallied their troops. Even when the Governor from Vermont was down for a press conference, they still brought out 50-60 people, simply to have a peaceful prayerful protest against that. So, we're very blessed, and they're going to be a big factor in this as the days come down.''