The Rhode Island Legislature overrode a
governor veto on Tuesday to approve a bill that gives gay couples the
same rights to plan the funerals of their late partners as married
couples, the Telegraph reported.
Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the
bill, with only 3 members of each chamber voting against the measure.
Governor Donald Carcieri, a Republican,
vetoed the bill in November, saying the legislation would erode
heterosexual marriage. The bill also includes unmarried heterosexual
“If the General Assembly believes it
would like to address the issue of domestic partnership, it should
place the issue on the ballot and let the people of the State of
Rhode Island decide,” the governor said in a letter to lawmakers.
Carcieri, who will be term-limited out
of office next year, remains a major obstacle to passing a gay
marriage bill in Rhode Island, which lawmakers have considered for
the last 13 years. The governor also backs an effort to place a gay
marriage ban in the Rhode Island Constitution. And in the spring, he
and his wife, Sue, joined the state's newly minted chapter of the
National Organization for Marriage, the nation's most vociferous
opponent of gay marriage.
Rhode Island is the only New England
state that does not recognize gay unions. Massachusetts, Vermont,
New Hampshire and Connecticut have legalized gay marriage. Maine
offers a limited domestic partnership for gay couples.
A couple must be at least 18, have
lived together for one year and prove they were financially dependent
– sharing a bank account would suffice – to qualify for the
funeral planning rights.