RI Governor vetoes measure to give same-sex partners power to make funeral arrangements

Via the Providence Journal:  

An opponent of same-sex marriage, Governor Carcieri has vetoed bill that would have added “domestic partners” to the list of people authorized by law to make funeral arrangements for each other.

In his veto message, Republican Carcieri said: “This bill represents a disturbing trend over the past few years of the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage, which is not the preferred way to approach this issue.

“If the General Assembly believes it would like to address the issue of domestic partnerships, it should place the issue on the ballot and let the people of the state of Rhode Island decide.”

The bill, also sponsored by state Sen. Rhoda Perry and state Rep. David Segal, would add “domestic partners” to the list, in current law, of people who can legally make arrangements for a deceased person’s funeral, cremation or burial to include domestic partners if the deceased person left no pre-arranged funeral contract.

The legislation defines a domestic partner as someone who was in an “exclusive, intimate and committed relationship” with the deceased and had lived with him or her for at least a year prior to the death; is at least 18, not married to anyone else, not related by blood and who was financially “interdependent” with the deceased as evidenced, for example, by a joint mortgage, shared credit card or domestic partnership contract.

According to its sponsors, the legislation is designed to provide rights to domestic partners regardless of whether they are of the same or opposite sexes.

Carcieri cited at least two other reasons for his veto.

As written, he said the bill would allow the decisions of a “partner” of a year to take precedence over “traditional family members,” and he believes a “one year time period is not a sufficient duration to establish a serious bond between two individuals…[relative to] sensitive personal traditions and issues regarding funeral arrangements, burial rights and disposal of human remains.”

Carcieri said he was also uncertain “how it would be ascertained in many circumstances whether [a couple] had been in a relationship for year” since there is “no official or recognized form” of domestic partnership agreement in Rhode Island. He called this proviso “vague and ill-defined.”

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