On Wednesday night, the Rhode Island state senate passed a same-sex civil unions bill, which is expected to be signed into law by governor Lincoln Chafee, an independent. According to The New York Times, the bill passed with "fierce opposition from gay-rights advocates who called the legislation discriminatory" because it allows religious organizations the right not to recognize the civil unions. The bill was first offered as a compromise following a push from Gordon Fox, the openly gay speaker of the House, to pass same-sex marriage, which he didn't have enough votes for. “It’s a permission slip to ignore legal obligations,’’ said Karen Loewy, an attorney at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. Opponents of gay marriage, such as Democrat M. Teresa Paiva Weed, the president of the state Senate, said the bill struck a good balance. “We have moved one step in the right direction toward ensuring that individuals receive equal rights and protections under the law." The bill grants "hospital visitations, joint bank accounts, and property transfers, among other rights," reports the Times. If signed into law, Rhode Island joins Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey as states that permit civil unions for gay couples.
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