Reject civil unions bill, diocese urges RI legislators

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin / Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin / Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox


After the defeat of a bill to recognize same-sex “marriage,” Rhode Island lawmakers should also reject civil unions for homosexual couples, the Catholic Diocese of Providence has said.

“We hope that those members of the Rhode Island General Assembly who have consistently supported traditional marriage will stay steadfast in their opposition to the legal recognition of same-sex relationships as either marriage or civil unions.

“Government sanctioned civil unions cannot be supported by those who truly understand the unique nature and status afforded a man and a woman in marriage,” the diocese wrote in an April 28 editorial in the Rhode Island Catholic.

The diocese called for a Defense of Marriage bill to clearly define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in Rhode Island.

“Only then will the attempts by radical activists to redefine marriage and undermine family life in Rhode Island finally be stopped.”

The R.I. House failed to pass a “gay marriage” bill after a hotly contested legislative battle. The Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox decided to offer civil unions as a compromise. Legislation is expected to be introduced in the coming week.

The legislation has also drawn opposition from “gay marriage” advocacy group Marriage Equality Rhode Island on the grounds these unions treat homosexual couples as “second-class citizens.”

The diocese’s editorial said that many elected officials are “tiring of shouts of homophobia and bigotry from the radical homosexual lobby” while also being unwilling to “sacrifice the sacred institution of marriage.”

But the diocese said civil unions are also misguided.

However well-intentioned, civil unions are not an acceptable alternative to marriage because they too undermine “the unique relationship of one man and one woman in holy matrimony.” The proposal would give “equal status albeit by another name,” to same-sex relationships. 

Civil unions legislation would not settle the issue but would allow backers of “gay marriage” to frame their goal as a remedy for “separate but equal” treatment. The editorial cited a federal judge’s ruling that California’s civil union-like system was an unjust arrangement for which “gay marriage” was the remedy.

The diocese explained that the Catholic Church recognizes that marriage is “not merely just any relationship between human beings” but has been “established by our Creator in harmony with the nature of man and woman and with its own properties and purpose.”

“Civil unions are not the answer,” the editorial concluded.

Rhode Island’s population has the largest proportion of Catholics of all U.S. states.

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