LGBT rights in Rhode Island
|Status||Legal since 1998|
|Discrimination protections||Yes, both sexual orientation and gender identity or expression|
|Recognition of relationships||Civil unions since 2011;|
Same-sex marriages since 2013
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Rhode Island have the same legal protections as heterosexuals. Rhode Island established two lots of major relationship recognition for same-sex couples, starting with civil unions since July 1, 2011, and then since August 1, 2013 with same-sex marriage. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is outlawed in the state. In addition, conversion therapy on minors has been banned since 2017.
Legality of same-sex sexual activity
Same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults in private have been legal in Rhode Island since anti-sodomy statutes were repealed in 1998. State Representative Edith Ajello sponsored the repeal bill for the seventh time when the Rhode Island House of Representatives passed it in May 1998. After the Rhode Island Senate passed it on June 2, 1998, Governor Lincoln Almond signed it into law.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
Rhode Island legalized same-sex marriage on August 1, 2013. On February 20, 2007, Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch issued an opinion holding that same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts would be recognized in Rhode Island. He said that "his interpretation permitted recognition of the marriages, although he acknowledged that it was just an opinion and did not have the force of law." On May 14, 2012, Gov. Chafee issued an executive ordering directing state agencies to treat same-sex marriages performed out-of-state as the equivalent of marriage. On September 21, 2012, the state's Division of Taxation, ruling in an estate tax case, announced it would treat couples in same-sex marriages or civil unions established in other jurisdictions as legally married, basing its decision on the state's civil unions law and the state's tradition of recognizing marriages validly performed elsewhere.
Rhode Island has provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees since 2001.
A bill to legalize same-sex marriage was introduced in the Legislature on January 11, 2011. Governor Lincoln Chafee announced his support for it. In May 2011, a bill to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples was introduced. It passed the Rhode Island House by a vote of 62-11. It passed the Senate on June 29 by a vote of 21 to 16. Governor Chafee signed the legislation on July 2, 2011 and the law was made effective from July 1, 2011. As of January 2013, only 68 couples obtained civil union licenses.
Legislation establishing same-sex marriage in Rhode Island was enacted in May 2013, effective August 1. Since August 1, two persons who are parties to a civil union entered into before that date may convert their union into a marriage.
Adoption and parenting
The Rhode Island Family Court routinely grants same-sex adoptions and has been doing so since at least 1995. Couples need not reside in Rhode Island and may be adopting their own birth child, using a surrogate, or adopting a child already placed with them. A decree lists both partners as parents. After the adoption, the Rhode Island Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics will amend the birth certificate of a child born in Rhode Island to name both partners as parents. A birth certificate issued in Rhode Island carries the names of both parents, including same-sex parents.
Rhode Island law has outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 1995 and on the basis of gender identity or expression since 2001 in employment, credit, housing and public accommodations.
Moreover, the state's anti-bullying law prohibits bullying on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and mental, physical and sensory disability. The law also explicitly includes cyberbullying and harassment, and applies to all schools approved by the state Department of Education.
Hate crime law
Gay panic defense
In June 2018, a bill to repeal the gay and trans panic defense passed the Rhode Island General Assembly (House vote 68–2 passed and Senate voice vote 27-0 passed). The Governor signed the bill into law a month later in July 2018. The law went into effect immediately.
On January 27, 2017, state representatives Edith Ajello, Joseph McNamara, Susan Donovan, J. Aaron Regunberg and Moira Walsh introduced a bill (H 5277) to prohibit conversion therapy on minors, and ban funding such practice by the state and its political subdivisions. On May 24, the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare recommended indefinite postponement of the original bill and passage of its substitute (H 5277 Substitute A). On May 30, the House approved the bill in a unanimous 69-0 vote, with six members not voting. In June 2017, the Rhode Island Senate passed a similar bill to the house bill by a unanimous vote of 29-0 with 1 absent from the chamber floor. The bill had to go back to the Rhode Island House of Representatives due to a technical amendment, which was passed again unanimously 62-0. On July 19, 2017, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed the bill into law and it went into effect immediately.
Gender identity and expression
Previously, the Rhode Island Department of Health only altered the gender designation on a person's birth certificate based on documentation of sex reassignment surgery. On October 23, 2014, new regulations took effect, which established that modifying a birth certificate requires instead that a medical provider certify that the individual intends to change gender.
In June 2018, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a bill to recognise transgender people on death certificates. The bill was later signed into law by the Governor and went into effect immediately.
In August 2019, the Governor of Rhode Island Gina Raimondo as well as both the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles announces drivers licenses will roll out sometime from July 2020 includes a third gender X option (alongside male and female).
|Same-sex sexual activity legal||(Since 1998)|
|Equal age of consent|
|Anti-discrimination laws in employment|
|Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services|
|Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)|
|Same-sex marriage||(Since 2013)|
|Recognition of same-sex couples (e.g. civil union)||(Since 2011)|
|Single LGBT individuals may adopt|
|Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples|
|Joint adoption by same-sex couples|
|LGBT anti-bullying law in schools and colleges|
|Third gender option|
|Intersex minors protected from invasive surgical procedures|
|Lesbians, gays and bisexuals allowed to serve openly in the military||(Since 2011)|
|Transgender people allowed to serve openly in the military|
|Conversion therapy banned on minors||(Since 2017)|
|Gay and trans panic defense banned||(2018)|
|Access to IVF for lesbians|
|LGBT-inclusive sex education required to be taught in schools|
|Surrogacy arrangements legal for gay male couples|
|Right to change legal gender|
|MSMs allowed to donate blood||/ (1 year deferral period)|
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- Rhode Island Sodomy Laws
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- Human Rights Campaign: Rhode Island Adoption Law Archived 2012-07-25 at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 11, 2011
- Human Rights Campaign: Rhode Island Non-Discrimination Law Archived 2012-03-11 at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 11, 2011
- Rhode Island Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies
- Human Rights Campaign: Rhode Island Hate Crimes Law Archived 2014-04-08 at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 11, 2011
- Gregg, Katherine (22 May 2018). "R.I. House votes to end 'gay or trans panic' defense". Providence Journal. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
- H 5277
- H 5277 SUBSTITUTE A
- HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CALENDAR
- House approves ban on ‘conversion therapy’ for children
- R.I. House OKs ban of ‘conversion therapy’ for LGBT youth
- Rhode Island House Votes to Ban Gay Conversion Therapy
- Rhode Island bans ex-gay conversion therapy for minors
- Rhode Island Governor Signs Bill Into Law Protecting LGBTQ Youth From Harmful Conversion Therapy
- Rhode Island, National Center for Transgender Equality
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- Persad, Xavier (June 22, 2018). "Rhode Island Legislature passes bill to ensure death certificate accuracy". Human Rights Campaign.