Marriage Equality Rhode Island Demands Religious Liberty Protections Be Stripped From Civil Unions Bill


In the Providence Journal:

Gay-rights groups such as Marriage Equality Rhode Island and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders said a House floor amendment that added religious protections goes further than similar measures in any other state. MERI, in a statement issued Thursday, said the bill would “legalize discrimination” and enable “faith-backed health-care organizations to ignore the legal status of same-sex couples.”

Other speakers, such as Joseph Cavanagh, of the National Organization for Marriage’s Rhode Island chapter, said the bill does not provide enough religious protections and would leave business people — photographers and bed-and-breakfast owners, among others — open to lawsuits if they do not provide services for civil-union ceremonies or events.

“People should not be forced to recognize something like this, and be charged with discrimination,” Cavanagh said.

... Asked when the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote, Chairman Michael J. McCaffrey, D-Warwick, said “the decision will be made whether to post it, if it’s going to be posted, within the next couple of weeks.”