On May 2, Governor Chafee signed long-overdue legislation establishing full marriage equality in Rhode Island. In 1997, then-Representative Michael Pisaturo first introduced marriage equality legislation. Along the way, the General Assembly offered “separate and not equal” solutions, such as domestic partnerships in 2002 and civil unions in 2011. The ACLU documented the unmitigated failure of the latter effort – only 68 couples took advantage of civil unions in the first year. Finally, seventeen years of advocacy paid off this year with passage of legislation granting full marriage rights to same-sex couples. The law also codifies Rhode Island’s recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions from other states, and includes protections for those religious institutions that choose not to solemnize same-sex marriages. The legislation was sponsored by Representative Art Handy in the House, and by Donna Nesselbush in the Senate, who took over for Rhoda Perry, who retired from the Senate in 2012 after sponsoring the legislation for twelve years. Read our final marriage equality testimony before the House Judiciary committee.
Marriage Equality (H 5015B, S 0038A)
Representative Art Handy and Senator Donna Nesselbush