Civil Unions

We believe that the way to end marriage discrimination is to do just that. Civil unions create a separate status for same-sex couples. Our goal is still full marriage equality.

Resources: Civil Unions in Rhode Island

Who Can Perform a Civil Union

Basically anyone who is authorized to perform a marriage is authorized to solemnize a civil union.  That means judges, clerks, administrators and magistrates of the court, as well as ordained clergy.  Many local clergy have come forward to say that they will perform service for couples entering into a civil union.  You can view a current list here.  If you are a clergy member who would like to be included here, please drop us a note at

Marriage and Civil Union Guide

GLAD has prepared a detailed information guide about marriage and civil unions in Rhode Island, their availability, the recognition and their dissolution.  If you have questions about the legal aspects of civil unions, you might want to start by downloading the guide here. 

How do you get a civil union?

The Department of Health has put out a FAQ document explaining how to obtain a civil union.  Here is the link: http://www.health.ri.gov/publications/frequentlyaskedquestions/CivilUnions.pdf

What does a civil union mean to you?

Understandably, many people have questions about how to apply for a civil union, and what types of protections it will provide for your family.  MERI and GLAD are putting together a FAQ sheet to answer some common questions.  In the meantime, GLAD has a legal hotline and email form where they are fielding questions.  http://www.glad.org/rights/infoline-contact

Civil Unions are not Equal to Marriage

Civil unions are legal status created solely to give state-only rights to same-sex couples. They preclude the possibility of gaining federal protections, as well as the dignity, clarity, and power of the word “marriage.” Marriage is more than simply a collection of legal rights; it tells the community that two people love each other and are a family. Since everyone understands the legal relationship called marriage, being married is significant to many people, and something that protects families in daily life as well as during times of crisis. No other word or legal status can provide that protection.