LGBT rights in Rhode Island
|LGBT rights in Rhode Island|
Rhode Island (USA)
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal since 1998|
|Discrimination protections||Yes, both sexual orientation and gender identity or expression|
|Civil unions since July 1, 2011; Same-sex marriage from August 1, 2013|
The establishment of LGBT rights in the U.S. state of Rhode Island is a recent phenomenon. The state established civil unions for same-sex couples on July 1, 2011, and legislation has been enacted establishing same-sex marriage as of August 1, 2013.
Sexual acts between consenting adults in private have been legal in Rhode Island since anti-sodomy statutes were repealed in 1998.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
Rhode Island does not grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but is scheduled to do so beginning August 1, 2013. The state recognizes same-sex marriages established in other jurisdictions where same-sex marriages are valid. On February 20, 2007, Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch issued an opinion holding that same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts would be recognized in Rhode Island. He said that "his interpretation permitted recognition of the marriages, although he acknowledged that it was just an opinion and did not have the force of law." On May 14, 2012, Gov. Chafee issued an executive ordering directing state agencies to treat same-sex marriages performed out-of-state as the equivalent of marriage. On September 21, 2012, the state's Division of Taxation, ruling in an estate tax case, announced it would treat couples in same-sex marriages or civil unions established in other jurisdictions as legally married, basing its decision on the state's civil unions law and the state's tradition of recognizing marriages validly performed elsewhere.
Rhode Island has provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees since 2001.
A bill to legalize same-sex marriage was introduced in the legislature on January 11, 2011. Governor Lincoln Chafee announced his support for it. In May 2011, a bill to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples was introduced. It passed the Rhode Island House by a vote of 62-11. It passed the Senate on June 29 by a vote of 21 to 16. Gov. Chafee signed the legislation on July 2, 2011 and the law was made effective from July 1, 2011. As of January 2013, only 68 couples obtained civil union licenses.
Legislation establishing same-sex marriage in Rhode Island was enacted in May 2013, effective August 1. Beginning on August 1, two persons who are parties to a civil union entered into before that date may convert their union into a marriage.
Adoption and parenting
The Rhode Island Family Court routinely grants same sex couple adoptions and has been doing so since at least 1995. Couples need not reside in Rhode Island and may be adopting their own birth child, using a surrogate, or adopting a child already placed with them. A decree lists both partners as parents. After the adoption, the Rhode Island Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics will amend the birth certificate of a child born in Rhode Island to name both partners as parents. A birth certificate issued in Rhode Island carries the names of both parents, including same-sex parents.
Rhode Island law outlaws discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in employment, credit, housing and public accommodations.
Hate crime laws
Rhode Island has a criminal statute covering acts of violence motivated by both sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
Rhode Island permits post-operative transsexuals to amend their sex on their birth certificates.
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- Human Rights Campaign: Rhode Island Birth Certificate Law: Gender Identity Issues, accessed March 11, 2011