Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Slippery Slope to Dignity

Seeking to protect "traditional marriage" from "incremental erosion," Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri (R) has vetoed a law which would have allowed same-sex partners to provide for the burial of their loved ones. Governor Carcieri also said that the one year minimum requirement for the domestic partnership isn't long enough to form a "lasting bond", and that domestic partnership status is impossible to verify given it has no official status in Rhode Island (the provision of which the governor also opposes).
The legislation was prompted by one of the more heart-wrenching personal stories to emerge from the same-sex marriage debate.

At a hearing this year on one of the stalled bills to allow same-sex marriage, Mark S. Goldberg told a Senate committee about his months-long battle last fall to persuade state authorities to release to him the body of his partner of 17 years, Ron Hanby, so he could grant Hanby's wish for cremation -- only to have that request rejected because "we were not legally married or blood relatives."

Goldberg said he tried to show the police and the state medical examiner's office "our wills, living wills, power of attorney and marriage certificate" from Connecticut, but "no one was willing to see these documents."

He said he was told the medical examiner's office was required to conduct a two-week search for next of kin, but the medical examiner's office waited a full week before placing the required ad in a newspaper. And then when no one responded, he said, they "waited another week" to notify another state agency of an unclaimed body.

After four weeks, he said, a Department of Human Services employee "took pity on me and my plight ... reviewed our documentation and was able to get all parties concerned to release Ron's body to me," but then the cremation society refused to cremate Ron's body.

"On the same day, I contacted the Massachusetts Cremation Society and they were more than willing to work with me and cremate Ron's body," and so, "on November 6, 2008, I was able to finally pick up Ron's remains and put this tragedy to rest."

Well, good thing we nipped that in the bud. And what a testament to the power of the "gays aren't unequal, they can contract around the benefits of marriage" argument!

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