“This is a disappointing and dangerous day for marriage in Rhode Island. The passage of Civil Unions presents a clear threat to the definition of marriage and the religious liberties of tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders,” declared Chris Plante, executive director, NOM – Rhode Island.
Hiding behind the idea of “compromise” and ignoring the almost universal opposition to this bill, the Rhode Island Senate has opened the door for the courts of Rhode Island to redefine marriage without a vote of the people. The Senate’s refusal to allow a definition of marriage to be inserted into the bill is either a deliberate omission to set the stage for a future law suit or a naïve belief that homosexual marriage advocates will now go away. Further, by not including an “inseverability” clause, the Senate has left vulnerable the hard won religious liberties protections put into the bill by the House of Representatives.
The National Organization for Marriage – Rhode Island is pleased that this bill has unprecedented protections for religious liberties in a civil union bill, however we are well aware that the protections do not go far enough to protect the religious liberties of business owners and professionals who wish to run their practices according to their deeply held religious beliefs. By not extending these protections to individuals the Senate has put at risk the myriad of small businesses and practices run by people of faith. These voters do not have the resources to defend against lawsuits and as such are left with the tragic choice of betraying their faith or risking their livelihoods.
Nevertheless, the National Organization – Rhode Island is pleased that marriage was successfully defended in Rhode Island against very long odds. The voters of Rhode Island fought for marriage and defeated the number two priority of the Governor and one of the highest priorities of the Speaker of the House. With a strong coalition of faith communities, NOM – Rhode Island was able to assist the House of Representatives in drafting and passing religious liberties protections that are unprecedented in other Civil Union laws.
The National Organization for Marriage – Rhode Island will continue to defend marriage and religious liberties in the Ocean State in the next legislative session and the electoral season to come.