Rhode Island lawmakers introduce civil unions bill in state House


Rhode Island lawmakers introduced legislation on Tuesday in the state House that would allow for same-sex civil unions, one week after the openly gay House Speaker conceded there was not enough support to pass a marriage equality bill.

Rep. Peter J. Petrarca (D-Lincoln), called his bill an important first step, that would give same-sex couples the same rights that married couples now have under Rhode Island law, reported the Providence Journal.

But outside, more than 200 same-sex marriage supporters made it clear that the push for passage of a same-sex marriage bill this year is not over.

Directing their anger at House Speaker Gordon D. Fox and other lawmakers they had looked to for support before Fox’s announcement last week that he would not back a gay-marriage bill this year, they said they will not settle for anything less than “equal rights.”

The bill is modeled after laws recently approved in Delaware, Illinois and Hawaii.

Traditional marriage supporters are opposed to the measure altogether and contend that it essentially is same-sex marriage, but by another name.

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