The good people of Rhode Island are overwhelmingly in favor of passing a civil union law in that state. Unfortunately, the once well-intended bill has become nothing but blatant discrimination against lesbian and gay couples as the result of the Corvese Amendment.
According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
“What may have started as a civil union bill with noble intentions, has been irreparably corrupted to include language that intentionally allows private and religiously affliated organizations to discriminate against same sex couples. But these aren’t just any organizations, they’re hospitals, schools and other institutions that receive public funding. The Corvese Amendment goes too far. As a result, no matter what you think about civil unions, this bill is not for you.”
The offensive amendment reads:
15-3.1-5. Conscience and religious organizations protected. – (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no religious or denominational organization, no organization operated for charitable or educational purpose which is supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization, and no individual employed by any of the foregoing organizations, while acting in the scope of that employment, shall be required:
(1) To provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, certification, or celebration of any civil union; or
(2) To solemnize or certify any civil union; or
(3) To treat as valid any civil union; if such providing, solemnizing, certifying, or treating as valid would cause such organizations or individuals to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.
(b) No organization or individual as described in subsection (a) above who fails or refuses to provide, solemnize, certify, or treat as valid, as described in subdivision (a)(1), (a)(2) or (a)(3) above, persons in a civil union, shall be subject to a fine, penalty, or other cause of action for such failure or refusal.
Read the text of the bill here.
If you live in Rhode Island, contact your legislators immediately. Don’t allow the bill to pass with this blatantly discriminatory language.
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copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski