Gay Marriage Laws in Rhode Island
Rhode Island gay marriage laws currently do not allow same-sex marriages. The state at this time only allows domestic partnerships. These domestic partnership do not have nearly all the benefits of a normal Rhode Island marriage, but they do have some important ones. Rhode Island domestic partnerships allow for your partner to have family visitation rights in hospitals or nursing homes.
They also offer benefits to employees that are police officers, firefighters and offer funeral rights. The domestic partnership also offers property rights which are very important. All of these are right from the state, the federal government does not offer any rights to the Rhode Island gay domestic partnerships. Currently there are three interesting bills pending for the Rhode Island General Assembly to review.
One of them would make Rhode Island marriage legal for gays. The other would ban same-sex marriage for Rhode Island gay couples. The third bill is a bill that would allow a reciprocal beneficiary agreement, granting gay couples more rights.
Rhode Island Attorney General Lynch has stated that Rhode Island should recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in another state. He also stated that not all those marriages should be accepted, for instance they may not recognize same-sex marriages from one state, but would from another depending on the circumstances. If the out of state marriage is not of Rhode Island marriage standards then the state should not have to recognize it, Attorney General Lynch explained.
In 2006, the Supreme court ruled that Rhode Island gay couples who had formed domestic partnerships were free to travel to Massachusetts and legally have a same-sex marriage. Once the couple is married in Massachusetts and they come back to Rhode Island, they will be recognized as having a Rhode Island marriage. Before Rhode Island gay couples were allowed to marry in Massachusetts, a nearly century old law that claimed on residents of Massachusetts could be married in the state, had to be lifted.
It is interesting to note that Rhode Island, which does not allow gays to marry in the state, also can not run a divorce court for Rhode Island gay married couples that were married in another state.
There are bills being written by both sides of the Rhode Island marriage debate. Some for gay marriage and others opposing it. Both sides claim to have opinion polls that support their argument, either for or against Rhode Island allowing gays to marry in the state. Brown University claims that 60% of Rhode Island citizens support gay marriage while only 31% oppose it.
The National Organization for Marriage claims that 43% oppose same-sex marriage, 36% are for it, and 17% are undecided. In both polls however, the opponents of same-sex marriage fail to reach the 50% marker. Rhode Island may be one of the states on the verge of legalizing gay marriage being performed within the state. With a close proximity to other States with a large and active gay community such as New York and Massachusetts, the supporters of Rhode Island Gay marriage will likely grow.