Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rhode Island Governor Orders State to Recognize Out-of-State Gay Marriages

Rhode Island does not issue marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples. But roughly nine months ago, gay and lesbian couples were given the option of applying for civil union licenses. Unfortunately, almost nobody wants to apply for civil unions. Early this month, we learned that only 52 people had applied for such licenses. They don't like that organizations within the state are free to ignore their civil unions and have instead traveled to neighboring states to actually get married. As a result, nearly $8 million dollars spent on gay weddings by Rhode Island couples are being spent in neighboring states instead of their own state!

Fastforward to yesterday. Rhode Island's governor, Lincoln Chafee, signed an executive order directing state agencies to recognize marriages performed out of state as legal relationship and to treat married gays as they treat married straight couples:
Some gay couples married outside Rhode Island — where civil unions are allowed, but gay marriage is illegal — have not been afforded certain rights because state law is not clear on the subject.

In 2007, then-Attorney General Patrick Lynch issued an opinion in favor of recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages, but it was nonbinding. Chafee said his signing of the executive order is “following through” on that opinion...

Same-sex spouses of state employees and anyone covered by an insurance company regulated in Rhode Island will be entitled to health and life insurance benefits, gay rights advocates say.

Both partners in a same-sex couple will be able to list their names as parents on a child’s birth certificate, and same-sex couples will be entitled to sales tax exemptions on the transfer of property including vehicles.

This of course takes even more bite out of the state's civil union law. I don't know many people who would settle for marriage-lite when they can just as easily skip the border and claim marriage itself!

1 comment:

Katy Anders said...

So Rhode Island is going to basically acknowledge the Full Faith & Credit Clause!

There's a novel idea.

But really, this is important for a couple reasons, not the least of which is if someone who gets married in, say, Vermont (like me) wants to ever get divorced (I don't), they'd have to MOVE for up to 6 months to a state that will do same sex divorce.

Regardless, this is good move by a guy who at least started out as a Republican!