RI Governor Axes Domestic Partner Benefits Bill

July 12, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri vetoed a measure this month that would grant the domestic partners of state and municipal employees the same retirement benefits now offered to spouses of employees, EDGE Boston reported.

The measure sent to Carcieri’s desk defines domestic partners as “having been in an exclusive intimate relationship” and “living within the same residence, for at least one year.”

Additional regulations include proving partners were “financially independent” by providing documents, including, but not limited to: a domestic partnership or relationship agreement, a joint mortgage, a joint checking account, a joint vehicle, and designated as beneficiary of the decedents’ will. There were no provisions in the bill for spouses, or a definition of “spouses,” according to EDGE.

The bill – S-619 – entered the Senate in February and was passed with overwhelming legislative muster in June, according to the news report. With such strong backing by the House and Senate, Carcieri was expected to push the bill through.

The Rhode Island General Assembly rejected other agenda items in favor of same-sex couples and their families earlier this year by rejecting some of the protections brought by the a group   Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI).  

MERI had proposed seven bills proposing protections for same sex couples, in addition to bill S-619. These bills, which died in the General Assembly, referred to testimony rights, family medical leave, funeral planning, nursing home visitation, ability to sue in a case of wrongful death, and two same-sex marriage bills, according to the news report.

Carcieri’s veto comes at a time when the Kentucky Governor called a special session to consider a ban on domestic partner insurance at state-run colleges and public agencies (See KY’s Fletcher Calls Special Legislative Session for Domestic Partner Benefits Ban ).