Same-sex couples in the US state of Rhode Island are saying ‘I don’t’ to its civil union scheme because of the large numbers of institution which are legally exempted from recognizing them, according to an American Civil Liberties Union report.
Just 68 same-sex couples in the state have sought to obtain civil union licenses in the state – which also recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
In contrast, 106 same-sex couples in Hawaii and 85 same-sex couples in Delaware sought same-sex civil union licenses in just the first month of them being available in those states. Both states have similar population sizes to Rhode island.
In the second six months of Rhode Island’s civil unions scheme only 11 couples sought to register their relationships through the scheme.
The ACLU believes the availability of same-sex marriage in neighboring states and the massive exemptions for religious organizations and the businesses they own to ignore couples who are married through civil unions rights are the reason for the low numbers.
Under the so-called ‘Corvese Amendment’ the rights of civilly-unioned same-sex couples can be legally ignored by private hospitals, private schools, cemeteries, and any other business or body owned by a religious group.
Rhode Island lawmakers are expected to return to the issue of same-sex marriage in 2013 – two years after they passed the state’s civil union law.
Democratic state Representative Peter Petrarca told the Associated Press that the civil union scheme had been created in 2011 for the sake of pragmatism in giving same-sex couples access to rights.
‘It was the best thing we could do at the time,’ Petrarca said.
‘If same-sex couples want to wait to see what happens [next year] that's their right.’