Beyond mere homophobia: a sad day for Rhode Island

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
and ill-defined.’

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.

9 thoughts on “Beyond mere homophobia: a sad day for Rhode Island

  1. I live literally within spitting distance of Rhode Island. I am appalled at Carcieri’s veto of a restoration of what should be a civil right: to not have government interference in one’s private relationships.
    I left a message for the Governor on his voice mail letting him know that I will no longer be traveling into his state to do any business and will recommend to my friends and acquaintances that they consider doing the same.
    Having survived eight years of Bush, I had expected the country would begin to turn around, but it appears that these religious fanatics and so-called conservatives continue to have a stranglehold grip on our necks.
    I weep for my fellow citizens.

  2. So did somebody ask dingus up there if the decisions of a “spouse” of a year should take precedence over “traditional family members?”
    I mean, if you’ve only been married for a year, is that “time period of 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 remains?”
    And, since his statement leaves this question waiting to be asked, just how long of a period of time would the homos have to wait before Cap’n Douche there thinks that they can plan for those fabulous, fabulous funerals?
    To borrow a term from the divine Ms. A:

  3. There are people I’ve known for two hours I’d be more comfortable letting plan my funeral than some “traditional family” members.
    This guy just isn’t man enough to actually admit he hates the idea of two dudes doin’ it and thinks if he’s just mean enough to them they’ll all stop having teh passionate buttsex in his mind.

  4. And not to belabor the point, but weren’t the “traditional family members” the ones creating all the problems (greatly aided, I might add, by the entire fucking Republican party, the Congress, and the President of the United States) during the Schiavo circus?
    Yes. Yes, I believe they were. So let’s not act like this guy’s doing anything but hiding from what he imagines will be an unpopular decision. Way to be, jerk.

  5. Ah Virgo, it gets quite convoluted.
    The Puritans regarded Williams (his Baptist ideas) as a heretic. He left and established Rhode Island and the first Baptist Church in America in Providence.
    Baptists were originally a group of staunchly independent churches. As you stated, the original Baptist church in America / Rhode Island drew a strong line between church and state.
    Of course, that was in the early to mid 1600s. They may have changed a little since then.

  6. Maple, I have always found it nteresting how Williams’ dogmatic worldview actually led him to see how vital the separation of church and state was.

  7. I’m reading Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” right now and I’m in a mood that says, Screw religion and people like Carcieri, who use it to dehumanize their fellow citizens.
    Stephen Weinberg, an American physicist, said: “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
    The entire debate about marriage equality is happening because of religion. Without it, there is no debate, because it just doesn’t make any rational sense. Fairly reasonable people are quietly siding with religious nuts (or just keeping their mouths shut about their disagreement) because religion gets a pass in this country. Ok, more than a pass, they get the entire fucking freeway to themselves, and we have to walk cautiously on the shoulder and hope they don’t hit us on their way to the Promised Land. In their SUVs.
    So yeah, screw religion.

  8. I see that OM NOM NOM NOM doesn’t actually believe that atheists can get married, either (especially not to each other), since it apparently takes “faith communities” to “sustain” marriage.
    Also, I’m looking forward to, as Jude brilliantly says, Carcieri informing newlyweds all over Rhode Island that they won’t be able to make funeral arrangements for their spouses until they’ve celebrated their first anniversary.
    (Makes sense to me; why not make it seven years, since most marriages that are going to end in divorce end before seven years? That way, you won’t have a bunch of people making funeral arrangements for each other who are just going to wind up getting divorced later, if one or other of them doesn’t die in the interim… There seems to be a well-greased inclined plane here somewhere.)

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