Watching the House: Civil Unions
Representatives Paul Crowley, Elaine Coderre (Deputy Majority Whip), John Patrick Shanley, Donald Lally, and J. Russell Jackson have proposed H 5356, which seeks to establish legal Civil Unions in Rhode Island.
15-3.1-2. Requirements. – For a civil union to be established it shall be necessary that the parties to a civil union satisfy all of the following criteria:
(1) Neither party shall be a party to another civil union or marriage.
(2) Upon application to the town or city clerk for the town or city where at least one of the parties resides the clerk shall issue a civil union license. A copy shall be retained by the town or city clerk, and the department of health, division of vital statistics,. At least one party shall sign the application attesting to the accuracy and truth of the application.
(3) The civil union must be certified by a legally authorized person in accordance with this chapter within sixty (60) days from the date of issue. Within ten (10) days of the certification, the person performing the certification shall return the civil union certificate to the office of the town or city clerk where the license was issued. The department of health, division of vital statistics shall also maintain a copy of the certificate.
(4) If the civil union is not certified within sixty (60) days from the date of issue the license shall become null and void. 15-3.1-3. Person authorized to certify civil union. – Civil unions may be certified by an authorized person and in accordance with section 15-3-5.
15-3.1-4. Prohibited civil unions. –
(1) A woman shall not enter into a civil union with her mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, brother’s daughter, sister’s daughter, father’s sister or mother’s sister.
(2) A man shall not enter a civil union with his father, grandfather, son, grandson, brother, brother’s son, sister’s son, father’s brother or mother’s brother.
15-3.1-5. Restrictions as to minors and incompetent persons. – A civil union license shall not be issued when either party to the intended civil union is:
(1) under eighteen (18) years of age;
(2) under a mental incapacity; and/or
(3) under a guardianship, unless express written consent is given by the legally appointed guardian.
15-3.1-6. Benefits protections and responsibilities of parties to a civil union. –
(1) Parties to a civil union shall have all the same benefits, protections and responsibilities under law as are granted to spouses in a marriage.
(2) A party to a civil union shall be included in any definition or use of the terms “spouse”, “family”, “immediate family”, “dependent”, “next of kin”, and other terms that denote the spousal relationship.
(3) Parties to a civil union shall be responsible for the support of one another to the same degree and in the same manner as prescribed under law for married persons.
(4) Laws regarding domestic relations, including annulment, separation and divorce, child custody, support, property division and maintenance shall apply to parties to a civil union.
It’s marriage by another name. I get the sense that it’s intended to be a preemptive, “moderate” solution to the looming Gay Marriage debate here in Rhode Island. It may stand a chance in the House, but I don’t think it’ll fly in the Senate.