Yesterday, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri, vetoed 25 bills passed by the State Assembly. One of those bills would have changed existing state law to add “domestic partners” to those authorized by law to make funeral arrangements for each other.
That’s right. The Governor says if you are gay, and your partner dies, you can’t claim their body and you can’t arrange for their funeral or cremation. Not just because you’re gay but because … wait for it: it would threaten traditional marriage.
In hisveto message,
Republican Carcieri said: “This bill represents a disturbing trend over
the past few years of the incremental erosion of the principles
surrounding traditional marriage, which is not the preferred way to
approach this issue.
Now, maybe I’m having trouble remembering my American history but I couldswear that the concept of separation of church and state had more than just a little bit to do withthe founding of Rhode Island.
So that magistrates, as magistrates, have no power of
setting up the form of church government, electing church officers,
punishing with church censures, but to see that the church does her duty
herein. And on the other side, the churches as churches, have no power
(though as members of the commonweal they may have power) of erecting or
altering forms of civil government, electing of civil officers, inflicting
civil punishments (no not on persons excommunicate) as by deposing
magistrates from their civil authority, or withdrawing the hearts of the
people against them
I wouldn’t go so far as to say Roger Williams is rolling in his grave, but this other kind of “incremental erosion of principles,” the ones the state upon which the state was founded, makes this already sad story even worse.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Carcieri is a member of theNational Organization for Marriage(NOM), whose mission is “to protect marriage and the faith
communities that sustain it.” In addition, last month, Carcieri delivered a speech against marriage equality to the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI), an organization so rabid in its homophobic zeal, it almost makes NOM seem normal in comparison:
“MFI does not consider homosexual behavior to be merely an alternate
lifestyle or sexual ‘preference’; it is an unhealthy practice and
destructive to individuals, families and society. Our compassion for
those plagued by same-sex attraction compels us to support the healing
of those who wish to change their behavior. MFI strongly opposes any
efforts by political activists to normalize homosexual behavior and all
attempts to equate homosexuality with benign characteristics such as
skin color, or the ‘gay rights’ movement with the civil rights
In his statement yesterday, Carcieri gave two other reasons for the veto:
As written, he said the bill would allow the decisions of a
“partner’ of a year to take precedence over “traditional family
members,’ and he believes a “one year time period is not a sufficient
duration to establish a serious bond between two
individuals…[relative to] sensitive personal traditions and issues
regarding funeral arrangements, burial rights and disposal of human
Carcieri said he was also uncertain “how it would be ascertained in
many circumstances whether [a couple] had been in a relationship for
year’ since there is “no official or recognized form’ of domestic
partnership agreement in Rhode Island. He called this proviso “vague
One bright spot: The existing law protects the wishes of those who have created pre-planned, formalized funeral contracts. Carcieri’s veto can’t change that.