Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.

(San Francisco, CA, June 29, 2011)—Today, the Rhode Island legislature approved a bill that would permit same-sex couples to enter into civil unions in the state. Unlike similar legislation passed in other states, however, the Rhode Island bill creates a sweeping exemption that would permit individuals and organizations, such as hospitals, schools and adoption agencies, to completely disregard the validity of a civil union because of their religious beliefs or affiliation. If signed into law, this measure would drastically curtail existing non-discrimination protections. NCLR is joining other LGBTQ equality groups in urging every LGBTQ person and ally to contact Governor Chafee and demand that he veto this discriminatory bill.

Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell:

“This dangerous bill will give religious-affiliated groups free rein to discriminate against same-sex couples. It also allows individuals, who are required to recognize all legal commitments, to refuse basic services to same-sex couples simply because of their religious beliefs. Instead of providing the badly needed protections that all couples deserve, the bill makes same-sex couples more vulnerable to discrimination by failing to protect their basic rights. Governor Chafee should veto this offensive and damaging bill.

Call or email Governor Chafee now and tell him to veto this discriminatory bill”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.