Monday July 5, 2010

Rhode Island Gov. Vetoes Transgender Hate Crimes Bill

By Peter J. Smith

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island, July 5, 2010 ( – Republican Gov. Don Carcieri vetoed a “hate crimes” bill last Wednesday that would have included transgenders as a protected class under Rhode Island state law.

“I vetoed this legislation in the past and I do so again,” Carcieri declared.

In a veto message, Carcieri said that Rhode Island already has hate crimes legislation on the books that empowers the state police to intervene in crimes related to bias. However, he added that the terms “gender identity and expression” were “confusing.”

The Rhode Island General law defines the terms as including situations when “a person’s actual or perceived gender, as well as a person’s gender identity, gender-related self image, gender-related appearance, or gender-related expression is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s sex at birth.”

The governor then explained, “As long as a criminal act was done willfully and knowingly, the perpetrator’s motives are irrelevant.”

Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, lauded the governor, saying he “deserves praise for his strong stance for the families of Rhode Island, and other Governors can learn by his example.”

“Given the challenges facing America, it’s troubling that any legislature would invest time and taxpayer monies to consider such a superfluous agenda-driven maneuver, much less pass it through both Houses,” said Perkins. “In vetoing the measures, Governor Carcieri rightly chose to tend to the serious business of governing Rhode Island and rejected those who seek to use government resources against anyone who would oppose their radical agenda.”

House Speaker Gordon D. Fox has not yet indicated whether the Democrat-dominated Assembly will attempt to override the governor’s veto. But if past is prologue, an attempt appears likely.

Carcieri, who is ineligible to run for another term as governor, vetoed a bill in November 2009 that would have allowed domestic partners – upon proving that they have had a relationship with the deceased for the duration of at least one year – to manage the funeral arrangements of the deceased partner.

While he was vilified in the press for his veto, Carcieri observed in his veto message that the Assembly should reconsider the law’s requirements because “many casual relationships last for longer than a year.”

He emphasized that a one-year relationship was hardly sufficient to establish a lasting bond that should trump the rights of the deceased’s traditional family members to determine the funeral arrangements.

“This bill represents a disturbing trend over the past few years of the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage, which is not the preferred way to approach this issue,” noted Carcieri.

Despite this, the Assembly refused to reconsider the bill, and overrode the governor’s veto in January.