Only 68 gay and lesbian couples
obtained licenses for civil unions in Rhode Island since the law took
effect last year.
The American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) announced the number on Monday, saying it shows that gay
couples in the Ocean State are waiting for full marriage.
“A year's worth of data make it
abundantly clear that gay and lesbian couples have emphatically said
'I don't!' to the civil union law,” Steven Brown, executive
director of the ACLU of Rhode Island, said in a statement.
The ACLU noted that interest for civil
unions has been much higher in similarly populated states, including
Hawaii, where 106 licenses were issued in the first month that a
civil union law took effect there.
Rhode Island borders three states where
gay marriage is legal – Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York –
and anticipation was high last year that it would join the ranks of
its neighbors. Additionally, Rhode Island recognizes the
out-of-state marriages of gay couples.
The state's civil unions law has been
criticized for an exemption that allows religious organizations to
refuse to recognize such unions.
House Speaker Gordon Fox, a Democrat
from Providence, has said he will call a vote next year on a bill
which would legalize marriage equality in the state.