RI lawmakers back funeral rights for gay couples

Associated Press

Wednesday June 3, 2009

PROVIDENCE, R.I.-Gay men and women in Rhode Island would have the legal right to make funeral arrangements for their partners under a bill unanimously backed by the state Senate.

The legislation approved Tuesday would give unwed people the legal right to arrange for undertaking, burial and cremation services of their partners. The bill now heads to House lawmakers.

Rhode Island does not recognize gay marriage, and the bill is among a handful touching on same-sex couples to reach a floor vote. Under the proposal, domestic partners would receive preference after surviving spouses but before children.

Sen. Rhoda Perry, a Providence Democrat, said she sponsored the measure after hearing from people whose relationships were rejected by their late partners' families or had trouble claiming a body.

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