Michael Pisaturo, Rhode Island, 1996
Michael Pisaturo (D)
Born April 4, 1963
Cranston City Council
Cranston, Rhode Island
Elected State Representative November 1996
Re-elected 1998, 2000
Elected to the Cranston City Council November 2004
Press Release from the State House office of Michael Pisaturo
Press release from March 12, 1997 - Representative Pisaturo was the only out elected official in Rhode Island at the time of this release.
Rep. Pisaturo Introduces Equal Access To Marriage Act
State Representative Michael S. Pisaturo today announced that he has introduced a bill that would allow Rhode Islanders equal access to marriage. “It has become clear that radically extreme special interest groups are intent on continuing their attack on decent, hard working gay Rhode Islanders by pushing for a ban on marriages for people of the same sex.” Legislation to that effect was introduced in the R.I. House of Representatives on February 4th by Rep. Susan Iannitelli (R-Smithfield). “My bill responds to the banning proposal by saying in a clear voice that intolerance and bigotry are not welcome in our state, which has a rich history of preserving and respecting the liberty of its citizens,” Pisaturo said.
Rep. Pisaturo, who is the state’s only openly gay elected official*, says his bill would allow same sex couples to have the same responsibilities and protections that married heterosexual couples currently receive, including hospital visitation rights, family health insurance privileges, spousal inheritance rights, adoption rights and tax benefits.
Pisaturo went on to say, “Gay men and lesbians who fall in love and have committed, monogamous relationships want and deserve the same protections for their families that the rest of society now enjoys. Strong, healthy families promote social stability and economic growth, and that these families are supported and protected by the legal and economic obligations and benefits conferred by civil marriage. It is a compelling state interest for the state of Rhode Island not to discriminate against anyone willing to take on the commitment and responsibility a civil marriage license confers.”
Pisaturo added, “This bill is not about, nor will it ever require, any religious denomination to recognize same sex marriage; it is only about ending discrimination by the government concerning who may receive a marriage license.
We must realize that being granted a marriage license by the state and having a religious wedding ceremony are two very different things. The religious wedding ceremony confers the particular denomination’s blessing on the union of the new couple; the granting of a marriage license by the state confers civil protections, obligations and responsibilities on the couple requesting it.”
Pisaturo concluded, “Since there are no legally married same sex couples in Rhode Island, a bill to attack such marriages is a moot point, and therefore, unnecessary, and as such must be assumed to be a blatant attempt at gay bashing decent, hardworking productive citizens of Rhode Island. If the debate is going to occur, my bill will ensure a fair, balanced discussion of the issue of equal access to marriage. Their proposal is about exclusion and bigotry, my proposal is about protecting the rights of all Rhode Island families.”
End of Press Release
Neither marriage related bill passed, but the next year he introduced a bill to grant hospital visitation rights to same sex couples, which did pass.
In the 1999 legislative session, Pisaturo introduced a bill to provide residents of the state the right to designate non-family members as the planners of their funerals. The bill passed unanimously in the House of Representatives, 70-0, and overwhelmingly in the Senate by a vote of 42-3. Of this bill Pisaturo said, "I thought there was nothing so awful as having to go through the death of your life partner, and at the same time find out you were not welcome to grieve at the funeral. While our relationships are not completely recognized, honored and legitimized in life, they will be fully respected and recognized in death."