(Providence, RHODE ISLAND) Today Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee officially announced same-sex marriages performed outside the state will now be recognized by the Rhode Island government according to the Associated Press.
Normally, under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution, every state is required to recognize marriages performed outside its territorial limits as long as that marriage was valid within the state in which it was created and the marriage is not gravely in conflict with the recognizing state’s public policy. After the Defense of Marriage Act was passed, it effectively made it possible for states to forego recognition of marriages made outside their state if the marriage was a union between same-sex partners. The act says that no state must recognize a same-sex marriage performed in another state, this was the main reason the act was created after Hawaii was considering legislation legalizing same-sex marriage and therefore compel other states to at least recognize same-sex marriages performed in Hawaii as valid.
Rhode Island will now permit those same-sex couples married outside the state to retain their married status within Rhode Island along with any privileges the state provides to married couples. Unfortunately, Rhode Island does not legally permit same-sex marriages to be performed and licensed in the state. In a way Rhode Island is actually granting/recognizing more rights than it is willing to give its own citizens. Same-sex married couples may now be listed on a child’s birth certificate jointly, obtain health insurance benefits from their spouse, and receive marital tax exemptions.
Currently, Rhode Island does allow civil unions but they fall short of the complete list of rights associated with marriage. Instead the distinction between marriage and civil unions creates a class of couples who are afforded less rights, and a union inferior under the law. GLAAD has published information on the distinctions which can be read by clicking the following link: GLAD Marriage and Civil Union Guide.
Congratulations to the same-sex couple married couples of Rhode Island, we’re almost there!