Laws

United States of America

RHODE ISLAND

Limited information only available for these topics

Access to Children
Adoption of Children
Age of Consent
Anti-Vilification
Artifical Insemination
Assisted Reproduction
Bullying
Civil Unions
Custody of Children
Discrimination
Estates, Wills
Fostering Children
Gender Identity
Harassment
Hate Crimes
Health, Medical
HIV/Aids
Homosexuality
Inheritance, Succession
Health, Medical
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
Marriage
Parenting
Partners
Privacy
Property
Sodomy
Taxation
Transgender, Transsexual
Violence
Wrongful Death

Please read the Disclaimer

Age of Consent Legislation/Cases/References
1.

State

The age of consent is sixteen (16) years [L1.1]

Rhode Island Code, Title 11 Criminal Offences, Chapter 11–37 Sexual Assault

§ 11-37-6 Third degree sexual assault. — A person is guilty of third degree sexual assault if he or she is over the age of eighteen (18) years and engaged in sexual penetration with another person over the age of fourteen (14) years and under the age of consent, sixteen (16) years of age [L1.1].

§ 11-37-7 Penalty for third degree sexual assault. — Every person who shall commit sexual assault in the third degree shall be imprisoned for not more than five (5) years

R1.1 Rhode Island General Laws: §11-37-6 (Accessed 10 JUN 09)
Assisted Reproduction Technology, Artificial Insemination, In Vitro Fertilisation, Surrogacy Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Courts & Tribunals

On 26 October 2016, Chief Judge Michael B Forte of the Rhode Island Family Court granted a motion seeking a ''declaration of parentage'' and declared that Cara Millett is a de facto and psychological parent of her partner Bryce Helie's child and also ordered that Cara Millett's name be added to the child Meyer's birth certificate. Partner Cara Millett had their first daughter Greyson in August 2010 using artificial insemination with an anonymous sperm donor and Bryce Helie formally adopted her. The same donor was used to conceive daughter Meyer, born June 2013. The declaration of parentage eliminated the need for formal adoption procedures [C1.2], [R1.1].

C1.2 Decision: In re Adoption Petition of (redacted) No. 2015-0877-1 PDF 26 OCT 16
R1.1 GLAAD 12 December 2016 Rhode Island Couple's Court Win Createts Alternative Path to Family Security 12 DEC 16
Children: Access, Custody, Visitation Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Courts & Tribunals

On 25 September 2000, the Rhode Island Supreme Court in a 3–2 ruling granted a lesbian co-parent standing to sue for custody of and visitation with the child her former partner bore by artificial insemination [R1.1].

R1.1 Planet Out: RI High Court OKs Parent Rights 26 SEP 00
Civil Unions, Partners Legislation/Cases/References
1.

State

On 02 July 2011, Governor Lincoln Chafee signed the civil unions bill into law with "reservations". The law went into effect 05 July 2011 and includes a section that says no religious organization – including some hospitals, cemeteries, schools and community centers – or its employees may be required to treat as valid any civil union [R1.15], [R1.14].


General Laws. Title 15. Domestic Relations. Chapter 3.1. Civil Unions [L1.13]

15-3.1-6. Benefits, protections, and responsibilities– A party to a civil union lawfully entered into pursuant to this chapter shall have all the rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law, whether derived from statutes, administrative rules, court decisions, the common law, or any other source of civil or criminal law as people joined together pursuant to chapter 15-3.

15-3.1-7. References and inclusions – A party to a civil union shall be included in any definition or use of any term that denotes the spousal relationship, whether or not gender specific, as those or related terms designating that relationship are used throughout the laws of the State of Rhode Island.


On 11 October 2011, it was reported that the civil-union law allowing gay couples an exemption from the estate tax provided to married couples is not delivering as promised. The tax, which applies when an estate exceeds $859,350, but not when an estate is passed on to a surviving spouse, is closely tied to federal law that defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman [R1.12].

On 29 June 2011, the Senate passed a civil unions bill 21–16 with broad exemptions for religious organizations and sent it to the governor's desk [R1.11].

On 03 June 2011, Marriage Equality Rhode Island was reported to be seeking amendment of the Civil Unions Bill provision exempting religious organizations from having to perform civil union ceremonies or recognize the relationships, because it may also allow religious hospitals, cemeteries, and schools to ignore rights given to gay couples in a civil union [R1.10].

On 19 May 2011, the full House passed Civil Unions Bill 6103aa in a 62–11 vote. The Bill proceeded to the Senate where wide support was expected [R1.9].

Previously:

On 17 May 2011, the House judiciary committee approved 9–3 House Bill No 6103 that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions [R1.8].

On 03 May 2011, legislation (An Act Relating to Domestic Relations – Civil Unions) that defines a civil union as "a legal union between two individuals of the same sex" and those individuals "all the rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities" as those who are married was introduced by State Rep Peter Petrarca [R1.7].

On 28 April 2011, legislation that would create civil unions was expected to be introduced to the legislature during the following week [R1.6].


In January 2010, lawmakers passed a law 67–3 in the House and 31–3 in the Senate to allow people in gay relationships to make funeral arrangements for their partners, overriding the veto of Governor Don Carcieri [R1.5].

Previously

On 10 November 2009, Governor Don Carcieri vetoed legislation that would have given same-sex couples the right to plan funerals for deceased partners [R1.4].

In June 2009, the senate passed legislation that would grant committed, unmarried couples the right to claim each other's body and arrange funerals [R1.3].


On 15 December 2000, a new contract gave gay and lesbian police officers in Providence, Rhode Island spousal health care benefits for their domestic partners, a benefit already enjoyed by the city's firefighters, teachers, and laborers [R1.2].


In May 1999, funeral planning Bill H5618 if passed allowed residents of Rhode Island to declare their choice of who they want to plan their funeral and authorize interment or disposal of their remains by executing a signed declaration to that effect [R1.1].

Previously

The law provided that only parents or children of a deceased person had legal priority in deciding on funeral rites and disposal of the body over unmarried partners (gay or straight) in cases where the wishes of the parties conflict [R1.1].

R1.15 Reuters US: Rhode Island governor signs gay civil union law despite doubts 02 JUL 11
R1.14 GLAD: Marriage and Civil Union Guide PDF 128.98kb, JUL 11
L1.13 General Assembly: An Act relating to Domestic Relations - Civil Unions PDF 17.25kb, 17 MAY 11
R1.12 Boston Globe: Tax exemption found unavailable for gay couples 11 OCT 11
R1.11 The Advocate: Rhode Island Senate Passes Contentious Civil Unions Bill 29 JUN 11
R1.10 Boston.com: Rhode Island group sees flaw in civil union bill 03 JUN 11
R1.9 GoLocalProv: House Passes Controversial Civil Unions Bill 19 MAY 11
R1.8 The Advocate: Civil Unions Bill Clears R.I. House Panel 18 MAY 11
R1.7 GoLocalProv: Rhode Island Civil Unions Bill Introduced 04 MAY 11
R1.6 365Gay.com: Rhode Island set to intro civil unions bill on Tuesday 29 APR 11
R1.5 PinkNews.co.uk: Rhode Island approves funeral rights for gays 06 JAN 09
R1.4 The Advocate: Gay Funeral Planning Rights Vetoed in Rhode Island 10 NOV 09
R1.3 The Advocate: RI: Pick Up Your Dead Gay Partner 04 JUN 09
R1.2 Planet Out: Cops Get DP in Providence, RI, Not in Germantown, TN 18 DEC 00
R1.1 Newsweekly: House Passes Funeral Planning Bill 70-0 12 MAY 99
Discrimination Legislation/Cases/References
1.

State

In 2001, State law already banned discrimination based on gender, race or sexual orientation.

On 28 June 2001, Rhode Island legislators amended the law to include those who cross-dress and those who have had, or are planning, a change of gender. It protects them from discrimination when seeking housing, employment or credit, and prevents employers from firing an employee for having a sex change [R1.2].

Previously

On 02 May 2001, the Rhode Island house of representatives voted in favor of a proposal that extends antidiscrimination protections discriminating based on "gender identity or expression" [R1.1].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 25 January 2018, The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld a $700,000 jury award for Lori Franchina, a lesbian firefighter who experienced extensive unchecked harassment from her co-workers at the Providence Fire Department.. The ruling clarifies in the First Circuit that the existence of sexual orientation discrimination does not negate a sex discrimination claim under Title VII [C2.2], [R2.1].

R1.2 Providence Journal: Civil Rights for Cross-Dressers and Transsexuals 29 JUN 01
Associated Press: R.I. to Protect Transsexuals 19 JUL 01
R1.1 The Advocate: Rhode Island House Passes Pro-Transgender Bill 03 MAY 01
3. Courts & Tribunals
C2.2 Opinion: Franchina v. City of Providence No. 16-2401 PDF 144.45kb 25 JAN 18
R2.1 WindyCityTimes: Court recognizes lesbian firefighter's sex discrimination claim 26 JAN 18
Estates, Inheritance, Succession, Property, Wills Legislation/Cases/References
1.

State

On 11 October 2011, it was reported that the civil-union law allowing gay couples an exemption from the estate tax provided to married couples is not delivering as promised. The tax, which applies when an estate exceeds $859,350, but not when an estate is passed on to a surviving spouse, is closely tied to federal law that defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman [R1.1].

R1.12 Boston Globe: Tax exemption found unavailable for gay couples 11 OCT 11

GayLawNet®™ "Exclusive" Sponsorship of this page IS available
Gender Identity, Intersex,
Transgender, Transexual

[?]
Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [DISCRIMINATION]
1.

State

On 23 October 2014, new “vital records” regulations were filed with the secretary of state's office that will, effective 11 November, enable transgender people to revise their gender designation on their birth certificates, based on a medical provider's certification that the individual has undergone surgical and/or hormone treatment “or other treatment appropriate for the individual” [R1.2].

On 28 June 2001, Rhode Island legislators amended the law to include those who cross-dress and those who have had, or are planning, a change of gender. It protects them from discrimination when seeking housing, employment or credit, and prevents employers from firing an employee for having a sex change [R1.1].

R1.2 ProvidenceJournal: Process to be eased for transgender people in R.I. to revise gender designation on birth certificates 25 OCT 14
R1.1 Providence Journal: Civil Rights for Cross-Dressers and Transsexuals 29 JUN 01
Associated Press: R.I. to Protect Transsexuals 19 JUL 01
Hate Crimes Legislation/Cases/References
1.

State

Rhode Island Code, Title 12 Criminal Procedure, Chapter 12-19 Sentence and Execution [L1.3]

§ 12-19-38 Hate Crimes Sentencing Act. — (a) If any person has been convicted of a crime charged by complaint, information, or indictment in which he or she intentionally selected the person against whom the offense is committed or selected the property that is damaged or otherwise affected by the offense because of the actor's hatred or animus toward the actual or perceived disability, religion, color, race, national origin or ancestry, sexual orientation, or gender of that person or the owner or occupant of that property, he or she shall be subject to the penalties provided in this section.

[…]


In June 2010, governor Donald Carcieri vetoed a bill that would have expanded the state's hate-crimes law to cover victims of crimes based on gender identity and expression [R1.2].


In July 1998, the General Assembly enacted a new statute which requires hate crime offenders be sentenced to at least 30 days in jail [R1.1].

L1.3 Rhode Island General Laws: §12-19-38 (Accessed 10 JUN 09)
R1.2 The Advocate: Rhode Island Governor Vetoes Hate-Crimes Bill 30 JUN 10
R1.1 Providence Journal: Two Men Charged Under Hate-Crime Law 19 DEC 98
Health, Medical Legislation/Cases/References
1.

State

On 19 July 2017, Governor Gina Raimondo announced signed into law H-5277A, a measure that bans widely discredited ''ex-gay'' conversion therapy for minors [R1.3].

On 30 May 2017, the House unanimously approved bill H-5277A to ban licensed professionals who treat children and adolescents from practicing ''conversion therapy'', which aims to change sexual orientation, gender identity or gender behaviors. The bill now goes before the Senate where the companion Bill is S-0267 [R1.2].

In May 2011, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island announced that beginning July, it would extend health coverage to domestic partners of the same sex as the subscriber, who have lived together for at least one year and are financially inter-dependent [R1.1].

R1.3 WashingtonBlade: Rhode Island becomes 10th state to ban ‘ex-gay’ therapy 19 JUL 17
R1.2 ProvidenceJournal 30 May 2017 | Lynn Arditi R.I. House OKs ban of ‘conversion therapy’ for LGBTQ youth 30 MAY 17
R1.1 WPRI.com: Insurance coverage for same-sex couples 24 MAY 11
Homosexuality, Sodomy Legislation/Cases/References
1.

State

On 02 June 1998, the Rhode Island legislature voted to repeal the 102-year old law in Rhode Island prohibiting consensual sex between same-sex couples was repealed. The measure then went to the Governor [R1.1].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 24 April 1998, Superior Court Judge Frank Williams declared the sodomy law unconstitutional [R2.1].

R1.1 GLINN: Rhode Island Legislature Votes to Repeal Sodomy Law 02 JUN 98
R2.1 The Advocate: R.I. Judge Calls Sodomy Law Unconstitional 28 APR 98
Marriage Legislation/Cases/References
1.

State

On 02 May 2013, the House voted 56-15 to pass the marriage equality Bill S 38 which was signed into law (with effect from 01 August 2013) by Governor Lincoln D. Chafee shortly after [R1.13].

Chapter 15-1 Persons Eligible to Marry

15-1-1 Equal Access to Marriage

Any person who otherwsie meets the eligibility requirements of chapters 15-1 and 15-2 may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender [S 0038 Substitute A].

Previously:

On 24 April 2013, the Senate voted 26-12 to pass marriage equality bill S38. The House needs to approve some Senate revisions, likely Thursday. Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) has promised to sign the bill [R1.12].

On 21 March 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the state and also consider a bill introduced by state Sen. Frank Ciccone (D-Providence) that would place the marriage bill before Rhode Island voters in 2014 if it were to become law [R1.11].

On 24 January 2013, the House passed Bill 2013-H 5015 (An Act Relating to Domestic Relations – Persons Eligible to Marry) in a 51–19 vote [R1.10].

On 23 January 2013, the House Judiciary Committee voted 11–0 to send legislation (2013-H 5015 Sub. A) to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry to the full House of Representatives [R1.9]. Similar legislation (2013-S 0038) has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush) [R1.8].

On 03 January 2013, Representative Arthur Handy (D-Cranston) and Senator Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket) introduced bills that would legalize same-sex marriage [R1.7].

On 14 May 2012, Governor Lincoln Chafee declared by executive order that the state will recognize all same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, enabling same-sex couples to both be named on a child's birth certificate, entitling spouses of employees to health and life insurance benefits, and extending sales tax exemptions on the transfer of property including vehicles to couples [R1.6].

On 28 April 2011, gay marriage legislation was not expected to pass the General Assembly this year [R1.5].

On 06 January 2011, Rep. Arthur Handy introduced a new piece of legislation to both House and Senate which, if passed, would introduce Rhode Island as an equal-marriage state [R1.4].

On 01 March 2000, the Rhode Island Legislature debated same-sex marriages [R1.3].

The law in Rhode Island was previously silent on whether same-sex unions were permissible [L1.2]. [R1.1].

§ 15-1-1 Men forbidden to marry kindred. – No man shall marry his mother, grandmother, daughter, son's daughter, daughter's daughter, stepmother, grandfather's wife, son's wife, son's son's wife, daughter's son's wife, wife's mother, wife's grandmother, wife's daughter, wife's son's daughter, wife's daughter's daughter, sister, brother's daughter, sister's daughter, father's sister, or mother's sister [L1.2].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 01 December 2014, the Social Security Administration paid Deborah Tevyaw, more than $30,000 in back benefits in settlement of her claim for spousal benefits previously denied to her on the basis that her Rhode Island state of residence wouldn’t have recognized her Massachusetts same-sex marriage at the time of her spouse’s death [R2.4].

On 29 September 2014, a complaint was filed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island on behalf of 56-year-old lesbian widow Deborah Tevyaw, who was denied spousal disability benefits and a lump sum death payment from the Social Security Administration upon the death of her spouse Patricia Baker. Married in Massachusetts in 2005, her spouse Baker died of lung cancer in August 2011 [C2.3], [R2.2].

In December 2007, the court ruled that gays married in neighbouring Massachusetts can't get divorced in Rhode Island because lawmakers have never defined marriage as anything but a union between a man and a woman [R2.1].

R1.13 Huffington Post: Rhode Island Legalizes Gay Marriage 02 MAY 13
R1.12 ThinkProgress: Rhode Island Becomes 10th State To Approve Marriage Equality 24 APR 13
R1.11 Washington Blade: R.I. Senate committee schedules hearing on marriage bill 14 MAR 131
R1.10 The Advocate: Rhode Island House Approves Marriage Equality 24 JAN 13
R1.9 GayStarNews: Gay marriage passes first legislative hurdle in Rhode Island 22 JAN 13
R1.8 State of Rhode Island General Assembly: Same-sex marriage bill passes committee unanimously, headed to House floor Thursday 22 JAN 13
R1.7 Rhode Island lawmakers introduce same-sex marriage bills 03 JAN 13
R1.6 The Advocate: Rhode Island Will Recognize Same-Sex Marriages From Other States 14 MAY 12
R1.5 365Gay.com: Rhode Island set to intro civil unions bill on Tuesday 29 APR 11
R1.4 Digital Journal: Rhode Island eyeing gay marriage legislation 06 JAN 11
R1.3 Associated Press: Same-Sex Marriage Debate Enters Rhode Island 01 MAR 00
L1.2 Rhode Island General Laws: Title 15 Domestic Relations, Chapter 15–1 Person Eligible to Marry (Accessed 11 NOV 09)
R1.1 The Advocate: Massachusetts Court Decision Leaves Nonresident Couples in Limbo 01–03 APR 06
2. Courts & Tribunals
R2.4 TheWashingtonBlade: Lesbian widow wins fight for Social Security benefits 04 DEC 14
C2.3 Complaint: Deborah Tevyaw v. Carolyn W Colvin No. 1:2014cv00425 PDF 156.93kb, 29 SEP 14
R2.2 TheWashington Blade: Lawsuit seeks Social Security benefits for lesbian widow 30 SEP 14
R2.1 bnews: Gay Couples Divorcing 24 APR 08
Parenting, Adoption, Fostering Legislation/Cases/References
1.

State

There is no apparent impediment to single GLBTI adoption. There is no specific prohibition against joint adoption.

Title 15 Domestic Relations, Chapter 15–7 Adoption of Children [L1.1]

§ 15–7–4 Petition to adopt – Court having jurisdiction. – (a) Any person residing in Rhode Island may petition the family court for leave to adopt as his or her child any person younger than him or herself and under eighteen (18) years of age, and […]

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 26 October 2016, Chief Judge Michael B Forte of the Rhode Island Family Court granted a motion seeking a ''declaration of parentage'' and declared that Cara Millett is a de facto and psychological parent of her partner Bryce Helie's child and also ordered that Cara Millett's name be added to the child Meyer's birth certificate. Partner Cara Millett had their first daughter Greyson in August 2010 using artificial insemination with an anonymous sperm donor and Bryce Helie formally adopted her. The same donor was used to conceive daughter Meyer, born June 2013. The declaration of parentage eliminated the need for formal adoption procedures [C2.2], [R2.1].

L1.1 Rhode Island General Laws: Title 15, Chapter 15–7, § 15–7–4 (Accessed 11 NOV 09)
C2.21. Decision: In re Adoption Petition of (redacted) No. 2015-0877-1 PDF 2.73MB 26 OCT 16
R2.11. GLAD: Rhode Island Couple's Court Win Creates Alternative Path to Family Security 12 DEC 16

1. GLAD: Rhode Island Parentage Q & A 09 NOV 16 (Accessed 24 JAN 17)
Taxation Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [ESTATES]
   

GayLawNet®™ "Exclusive" Sponsorship of this page IS available