Editor's PickLegal & Financial

Rhode Island’s House approves civil unions for gay couples. Marriage equality lacks votes.

Rhode Island’s House of Representatives passed legislation allowing gay couples to enter into civil unions. The proposal would allow gay couples to enter into civil unions granting all of the state rights given to married couples under Rhode Island law. It was introduced as a compromise after legislative leaders said marriage equality legislation lacked the votes needed to pass this year.

Many supporters of full equality 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.”

Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and the District of Columbia now recognize marriage equality. Illinois, New Jersey, Delaware and Hawaii have passed civil union bills similar to the one pending in Rhode Island.

[via the AP]