PROVIDENCE— Although they were co-sponsors of a same-sex marriage bill last week, Senators Nicholas Kettle (District 21- Coventry, Foster, Scituate, West Greenwich) and Leonidas Raptakis (District 33-Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) removed their names from that bill on Tuesday.
The bill, S708, was sponsored by Sen. Frank Ciccone, which looked to amend the Rhode Island Constitution to state that marriage was “the legally-recognized union of two people.”
The bill also stated that the “right of the people to marry shall not be denied on the basis of the gender of the parties.”
Under the pro-marriage equality bill passed by the House of Representatives, religious institutions can set their own guidelines for marriage equality.
Senate bill 708 looks to extend that exemption to include organizations that are connected to a religious affiliation.
Although Raptakis said he “whole-heartedly” supports the portion about religious institutions, he noticed another clause in the bill “that went too far.”
A portion of the bill, he explained, would allow businesses to choose to not provide goods to a marriage ceremony that they thought went against their religious beliefs.
“We can’t start turning the clock back; to allow a business entity to refuse their services to people like that,” he added. “You can’t put something in a bill that violates state statutes.”
He said that currently there are two bills before the Senate; one allowing the Senate to vote and the second would allow citizens to vote on the issue in the general election.
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