A Rhode Island bill that would
recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions will face its
first legislative hurdle on Tuesday evening when the House Judiciary
Committee vetting the bill is scheduled to vote on whether to send
the measure to the full House for consideration.
Representative Peter Petrarca, a
Democrat from Lincoln, introduced his civil unions bill after House
Speaker Gordon Fox announced a gay marriage proposal has “no
realistic chance” of being approved in the General Assembly this
session. Fox, who is gay and backs marriage equality, said he would
shift away from marriage and toward civil unions for gay couples as a
At a committee hearing on the measure,
gay marriage supporters and opponents panned the compromise.
Supporters of marriage equality groused
that separate is never equal, while opponents objected to civil
unions on the grounds the legislation would be used as a
steppingstone to marriage, prompting Petrarca to say both sides were
“acting like schoolchildren.”
The compromise comes on the heels of a
failed effort to legalize such unions in Maryland. A
gay marriage debate in New York is getting heated as the legislative
session reaches its final weeks.