You may have heard the Civil Union bill is bad because of the “Corvese Amendment.” What is that? It was added to the House version of the Bill by Rep. Arthur Corvese (D – District 55 – North Providence).
The 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.
So, what does that mean? It could mean that you find yourself stuck down and rushed to Fatima Hospital. Your Civil Unioned Partner (I’m not sure if we’re allowed to use the word spouse) comes to be with you and make decisions on your care. Fatima can say, they do not recognize your partnership and require someone who they recognize as kin to come to make decisions on your behalf. An employee at Providence College could find their partner denied access to spousal health benefits.
Will this happen? Neither Fatima nor Providence College nor any other religious institution has made any announcement of policies regarding their recognition of Civil Unions; but they have every right to do these things and more.