This morning, Chafee signed the bill, cursing it in detail. I hold that the proper action would have been to veto it and tell the legislature they need to show some guts and compassion and love of civil rights — pass same-sex marriage.
Instead, the executive-like person called civil unions with the nation's most sweeping exemptions for even the tangentially vaguest religious affiliations "a step forward." Full speed into the swamp, I suppose, can be a charge as well.
First, it is not what he asked for (allegedly a demand a short time ago) — "...full marriage equality to all Rhode Islanders, a civil right that I strongly support and urged the General Assembly to enact." Second, the religious and quasi-religious exemptions are "too broad" and "a religious exemption of unparalleled and alarming scope." It gives virtual carte blanche to goof with gays. As Chafee put it, "Religious organizations operate hospitals, cemeteries, schools and community centers. As drafted, the bill gives these institutions and their employees the choice of refusing to recognize civil unions."
Fox had been a hero, pushing for full SSM, before wimping out recently. His likewise piss-warm you-just-wait message at the signing was, "I remain committed to the passage of marriage equality, but democracy is about compromise. I am convinced that Rhode Island will someday have full marriage equality and I intend to play a role in that effort."
During the Civil Right Movement's hardest days, there were many terms for such grin and eat the crumbs liberals. None of them was hero.