An opponent of same-sex marriage, Governor Carcieri has vetoed a bill that would have added “domestic partners” to the list of people authorized by law to make funeral arrangements for each other.
Representative Frank Ferri of Warwick sent this scathing response to Carcieri:
November 11, 2009
His Excellency Donald L. Carcieri
State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
State House, Room 115
Providence, RI 02903
Re: Veto of S0195 & H5294
Dear Governor Carcieri:
I write on behalf of the thousands of LGBT Rhode Islanders who you continue to persecute by governing according to your personal and religious beliefs. Your veto of Senate Bill 0195 and House Bill 5294, which sought to instill a modicum of dignity for all Rhode Islanders at a time of extreme hardship for anyone – the death of a loved one – can only be described as an act of cruelty. The ability to provide for the final wishes of a departed partner is a matter of civil rights, and it is unfortunate you have allowed your religious beliefs to once again cloud your judgment.
I remind you as governor you represent all the people of Rhode Island – not just those who subscribe to the views of the Catholic Church. Your consistent demonizing of the LGBT community will truly be a blemish on your tenure as governor. I think it is also time to remind you of a simple concept the Founding Fathers believed in – the separation of church and state. There have been many in the history of our country and state with deep religious commitment who understood their beliefs should not interfere with the rights of fellow citizens. Rhode Islanders would be far better served if you spent your last year in office governing with this simple, but essential, concept in mind.
To suggest, as you do in your veto message, that a “one year…relationship is not sufficient to establish a serious, lasting bond” between two persons over “traditional” family members is preposterous. It is not your role to judge the significance of relationships or commitments between two individuals. Believing you have a voice in this matter speaks volumes to the level of arrogance you bring to this debate. Certainly, it is beyond the scope of your authority to call into question the level of love, compassion and dedication between two people, regardless of the length of time they have been in a relationship with one another.
The suggestion that your veto is in some way tied to the ongoing discussion of marriage equality is especially disturbing. This bill has no affect whatsoever on the definition of marriage. Instead, it seeks to extend some measure of relief in an incredibly emotional time. Was the pain and suffering endured by Mark S. Goldberg as he attempted to secure the release of the remains of his partner of 17 years any less cruel because they were of the same sex? To suggest all Rhode Islanders should not have the same rights is nothing less than bigotry.
In short, no one elected you to serve as the state’s moral compass. Just as George Wallace stood before the doors of the University of Alabama, you find yourself on the wrong side of history. Your decision yesterday to deny some Rhode Islanders the same rights and dignities as their friends and neighbors is shameful and history will judge you harshly.
Representative Frank G. Ferri
District 22, Warwick
More reaction below the fold.
h/t DubNotDubyaRI Democratic Party Chairman William Lynch and current AG/ Gubernatorial candidate Patrick Lynch released these reactions…
“While I recognize that Governor Carcieri does not share my belief that all hard-working, taxpaying Rhode Island citizens are entitled to equal respect and protection of under that law, I find it astonishing that he would take this draconian and dramatic step to deny a person in a committed relationship the right to help make final arrangements for a loved one.
The governor’s veto was not only mean-spirited and disrespectful, it demonstrated the lengths to which he will go to place his own political agenda ahead of compassion for people coping with the reality of such a significant loss.
It can now be said, without question, that this governor is infinitely more interested in serving at the pleasure of the far right than he is doing the right thing. I encourage the House and Senate to convene at the earliest possible opportunity to override this veto, and pass this much-needed bill into law.”
Today, candidate for Governor and current Attorney General Patrick Lynch blasted Governor Carcieri’s veto of legislation that would give domestic partners the right to claim the bodies of and make funeral arrangements for their loved ones.
“I can only describe the Governor’s veto as cruel and heartless,” Lynch said. “By vetoing this bill, he has demonstrated that he believes gay and lesbian Rhode Islanders are second-class citizens. If this bill comes before me as Governor, I will sign it immediately.”
Lynch is the only candidate in the Democratic Primary for Governor with a long track record of taking a leadership role in working to advance the issue of equality for gay and lesbian Rhode Islanders. His record includes:
Lynch was the first Attorney General in the United States to issue a legal opinion advising that the state should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Lynch has argued that same-sex couples employed by the state should receive the same benefits available to other married couples.
Lynch created the position of Civil Rights Advocate within the Office of Attorney General whose role is to promote civil rights and prosecute hate crimes.
Lynch has twice prosecuted cases of people who targeted or discriminated against individuals only because they were gay.
“It takes more than just talk to demonstrate a commitment to equality for all. It takes action,” Lynch said. “I have a record of proactively fighting for equality for gay and lesbian Rhode Islanders and I pledge to continue this fight as Governor.”