Since the law was enacted, the ACLU said, 14 gay and lesbian couples have sought “civil union” status. In its review of licensing statistics in a dozen other states, the ACLU found “no other state that has passed a law formally recognizing gay and lesbian couples has seen such a paltry and lackluster response to its passage.”
The report cites at least three major reasons why couples are shunning the new statute: the inclusion of “an incredibly broad ‘religious’ exemption” that significantly undercuts the law’s purpose; the dashed expectation that, after 12 years of effort, a vote on a marriage bill would finally take place this year; and the prevalence of marriage states throughout New England, where “Rhode Islanders can travel a few hours in just about any direction and be in a state that, unlike their own, recognizes full marriage equality.”
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Testimony from both sides of the Civil Union debate in the Rhode Island Assembly. Includes Rep. Frank Ferri’s testimony (at about the 1:30 mark).
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