The issue was introduced to the General Assembly last year after Mark Goldberg, a Providence man, struggled for five weeks to reclaim the body of his deceased partner. Although the couple had been together for seventeen years and had wills attesting to their partnership, the state refused to release the body to Goldberg because he was not legally considered family.
Both the Senate and the House passed a bill allowing for funeral rights of unmarried couples--gay or straight--provided that both parties were at least 18, that they had lived together for at least a year, and that there was some evidence of shared finances (such as a joint bank account.)
The governor vetoed the bill, saying that it was unnecessary and arguing that the bill “represents a disturbing trend over the past few years of the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage."
Christopher Plante, director of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Marriage, sent a letter to all legislators asking that they reconsider the veto: "Rather than being compassionate, the legislation in question is actually an exploitation of Mr. Goldberg’s tragedy by the homosexual-marriage activists in Rhode Island. Despite their claims to the contrary, these bills serve simply as “Trojan Horses” for homosexual-marriage."
The bill passed 67-3 in the House and 31-3 in the Senate.