Civil unions receive tepid interest in first days
PROVIDENCE, RI – It's been five days since Governor Lincoln Chafee signed a law making civil unions legal in Rhode Island, but as of Wednesday morning only three people had requested civil union license applications statewide.The interested parties were in Burrillville, Smithfield and Newport.
The lack of interest stands in stark contrast to the experience of Vermont which in 2000 became the first state in the nation to allow any type of same sex unions.
Vermont Public Radio reporter Ross Sneyd, who worked for the Associated Press at the time, says there was so much interest many town halls opened even though the law took effect on a Saturday.
"I remember being in Brattleboro on July 1st, 2000," he says "where a couple persuaded the town clerk to open the office right at midnight so they could apply for their license and they had their civil union ceremony in a park right across from town hall."
Sneyd says he's not surprised Rhode Islanders aren't jumping at the chance to engage in civil unions, which are now considered something of a second class union with the legalization of same sex marriage in several states.
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