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Rhode Island To Consider Marriage Equality, Divorce Bills

By Igor Volsky  

"Rhode Island To Consider Marriage Equality, Divorce Bills"

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A House committee in Rhode Island will consider several bills related to same-sex unions, marriage, and divorce on Wednesday:

– One proposal would allow same-sex marriage in Rhode Island, recognize previously performed civil unions as marriages, and recognize unions and marriages performed in other jurisdictions as marriages.

– A second measure would allow divorce in Rhode Island for couples legally married elsewhere.

– A third bill would repeal the controversial amendment attached to last year’s civil unions bill that allows for certain organizations to use religion as an excuse to refuse services to couples who have a civil union.

The state does not currently recognize same-sex marriages, but does allow for civil unions. Couples are shunning that law’s broad religious exemption, however, which allows organizations to ignore their relationships and are traveling to neighboring states for full marriage equality. Still, marriage law in the state remains muddled. In 2007, Attorney General Patrick Lynch released a legal opinion stating that the state did not explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage and should recognize gay unions performed in other states. That same year, the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled that a same-sex couple could not divorce in the state.

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