Even though 60 percent of Rhode Island voters favor same-sex marriage (and 75 percent favor civil unions), legislators still refuse to grant gays marriage rights. (The House has seen a marriage equality bill introduced every year since 1997. This year’s bill is effectively dead after the House Judiciary Committee recommended “further investigation.”) But you know where legislators are comfortable giving gays some rights? After they die.
The State Senate yesterday approved a bill granting “domestic partners” (“a person who prior to the decedent’s death was in an exclusive, intimate and committed relationship with the decedent”) the right to claim the bodies and make funeral arrangements for their dead loved ones. The bill now awaits a vote by the House, where it’s pending in, you guessed it, the House Judiciary Committee.
As for what qualifies you as a domestic partner? Let’s hope you’ve got a joint checking account. Providence Journal:
The bill that won Senate approval is narrowly framed. It adds “the domestic partner of the deceased” — right under the words “surviving spouse” — to the list of people a funeral director should consult about the arrangements.
It defines a domestic partner as someone who had been in “an exclusive, intimate and committed relationship” with the deceased, and had cohabited for at least a year at the time of the death. It also spells out the evidence necessary to prove the two were financially dependent, such as a joint mortgage, lease, checking or credit account, a “domestic partnership agreement or relationship contract.”