Post submitted by Jeremy Pittman, former HRC Deputy Field Director

Yesterday, the Rhode Island House of Representatives voted in favor of civil unions while their peers in neighboring Connecticut advanced legislation to add gender identity and expression to the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

In Rhode Island, the strong bipartisan 62-11 vote in favor of civil unions sends the bill to the state Senate.  HRC has been working with Marriage Equality Rhode Island and other partners to bring the freedom to marry to committed gay, lesbian and bisexual couples in the Ocean State.  Speaker of the House Gordon Fox opted to advance civil unions legislation instead based on his reading of the political will within the statehouse.

If this bill passes the state Senate and is signed into law, Rhode Island will become the fourth state this year to enact civil unions (joining Illinois, Hawaii and Delaware) and the 14th state with the protections of marriage, civil unions or strong domestic partnerships for same-sex couples and their families (see map).

In Connecticut, the House of Representatives voted 77-62 to pass legislation adding gender identity and expression to the state’s anti-discrimination laws.  The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration.  Similar bills have already passed this year in Hawaii and Nevada (where the legislation awaits the Governor’s signature), and prohibitions on employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression are now on the books in one-quarter of all states.

Congratulations and thanks to the many legislators who worked hard to pass this bill and to the advocates at CT Equality and the Connecticut Transgender Advocacy Coalition.  HRC and the HRC Greater New York steering committee have worked with local groups to generate support for this important legislation, and Meghan Stabler of HRC’s board of directors testified in favor of the bill during public hearings in March. To learn more about marriage equality, civil unions and other protections for same-sex couples and their families, visit

To learn more about gender identity and expression, transgender Americans and available HRC resources, visit

Filed under: Marriage, Transgender

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