Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Civil Union Bill, The Corvese Amendment, and Why Humanists of Rhode Island Opposes this Bill

Here is the full text of the poisonous Corvese Amendment, which made it into the final version of the Civil Unions Bill H 6103, signed into law by Governor Chafee. The Corvese Amendment is named for North Providence Representative Arthur J Corvese (234 Lexington Avenue North Providence, RI 02904  (401) 353-8695).

This amendment not only undermines the bill completely, it goes against the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, and against the ideals of the founder of our state, Roger Williams.
15-3.1-5. Conscience and religious organizations protected.

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no religious or denominational organization, no organization operated for charitable or educational purpose which is supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization, and no individual employed by any of the foregoing organizations, while acting in the scope of that employment, shall be required:

(1) To provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for a
purpose related to the solemnization, certification, or celebration of any civil union; or

(2) To solemnize or certify any civil union; or

(3) To treat as valid any civil union;

if such providing, solemnizing, certifying, or treating as valid would cause such organizations or individuals to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.

(b) No organization or individual as described in subsection (a) above who fails or
refuses to provide, solemnize, certify, or treat as valid, as described in subdivision (a)(1), (a)(2) or (a)(3) above, persons in a civil union, shall be subject to a fine, penalty, or other cause of action for such failure or refusal.
As you can see, if the idea of a civil union violates your sincerely held religious beliefs, you don't have to treat civil unions as valid. This is clearly favoring religion, a violation of the establishment Clause.
Humanists of Rhode Island oppose this bill, and are calling for the State of Rhode Island General Assembly to quickly rectify this grievous error in its next legislative session. Meanwhile, we will support any and all legal challenges to this terrible, anti-American, and anti-human legislation.


  1. Good on you guys. This is clearly unconstitutional. Because I can see other possible outcomes from this language.

    For example, it is going to run afoul of RI ENDA law too.

  2. Absolutely. The evils and transgressions this bill allows seem to spiral out like fractals.

  3. The establishment of state religion in the US is clearly forbidden, and the practice of religion is clearly protected. But I believe a person's private practice of religion, or the exercise of religious faith, should never trump or violate the civil law. I am free to have any kind of 'sincere' conviction that I choose; but when that conviction becomes license to trample the rights of others who make different choices, then we are in serious trouble indeed.