Chapter 004

2013 -- H 5015 SUBSTITUTE B

Enacted 05/02/13

 

A N A C T

RELATING TO DOMESTIC RELATIONS - PERSONS ELIGIBLE TO MARRY

          

     Introduced By: Representatives Handy, Fox, Mattiello, Ferri, and Ruggiero

     Date Introduced: January 03, 2013

 

It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:

 

     SECTION 1. Sections 15-1-1, 15-1-2, 15-1-3, 15-1-4 and 15-1-5 of the General Laws in

Chapter 15-1 entitled "Persons Eligible to Marry" are hereby amended to read as follows:

 

     15-1-1. Men forbidden to marry kindred Equal access to marriage. -- No man shall

marry his mother, grandmother, daughter, son's daughter, daughter's daughter, stepmother,

grandfather's wife, son's wife, son's son's wife, daughter's son's wife, wife's mother, wife's

grandmother, wife's daughter, wife's son's daughter, wife's daughter's daughter, sister, brother's

daughter, sister's daughter, father's sister, or mother's sister. Any person who otherwise meets the

eligibility requirements of chapters 15-1 and 15-2 may marry any other eligible person regardless

of gender.

 

     15-1-2. Women forbidden to marry kindred Marrying kindred forbidden. -- No

woman shall marry her father, grandfather, son, son's son, daughter's son, stepfather,

grandmother's husband, daughter's husband, son's daughter's husband, daughter's daughter's

husband, husband's father, husband's grandfather, husband's son, husband's son's son, husband's

daughter's son, brother, brother's son, sister's son, father's brother, or mother's brother. No person

shall marry his or her sibling, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, stepparent, grandparents'

spouse, spouse's child, spouse's grandchild, sibling's child or parent's sibling.

 

     15-1-3. Incestuous marriages void. -- If any man or woman person intermarries within

the degrees stated in section 15-1-1 or section 15-1-2, the marriage shall be null and void.

 

     15-1-4. Marriages of kindred allowed by Jewish religion. -- The provisions of sections

15-1-1 -- 15-1-3 15-1-2 and 15-1-3 shall not extend to, or in any way affect, any marriage which

shall be solemnized among the Jewish people, within the degrees of affinity or consanguinity

allowed by their religion.

 

     15-1-5. Bigamous marriages void -- Marriage of persons who are mentally

incompetent. A person is prohibited from marrying if such person is:

     (1) A party to another marriage; or

     (2) A party to a relationship that provides substantially the same rights, benefits and

responsibilities as a marriage whether entered into in this state or another state or jurisdiction and

such marriage or relationship has not been finally dissolved, unless the parties to the intended

marriage will be the same as the parties to such other marriage or relationship. Any marriage

entered in violation of this prohibition when either of the parties at the time of the marriage has a

former wife or husband living who has not been, by final decree, divorced from that party, and

any marriage where either of the parties is mentally incompetent at the time of the marriage, shall

be absolutely void, and no life estate created by chapter 25 of title 33 shall be assigned to any

widow surviving spouse in consequence of the marriage.

 

     SECTION 2. Chapter 15-1 of the General Laws entitled "Persons Eligible to Marry" is

hereby amended by adding thereto the following sections:

 

     15-1-7. Marriage codification. Marriage is the legally recognized union of two (2)

people. Terms relating to the marital relationship or familial relationships shall be construed

consistently with this section for all purposes throughout the law, whether in the context of

statute, administrative or court rule, policy, common law, or any other source of civil law.

 

     15-1-8. Recognition of relationships entered into in another state or jurisdiction. lf

two (2) persons are within the jurisdiction of Rhode Island and have a legal union other than a

marriage that provides substantially the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as a marriage

and the union was validly entered into in another state or jurisdiction and the union is not

prohibited by this chapter then they shall be afforded the same rights, benefits and responsibilities

as a valid marriage in this state.

 

     15-1-9. Applicability of state laws to marriages not recognized by federal law. (a)

Any provision of Rhode Island law that refers to, adopts, or relies upon provisions of federal law,

including, but not limited to, those in title 44, shall apply to parties recognized as married under

the laws of this state, as if federal laws recognized such marriages in the same manner as Rhode

Island law.

     (b) Notwithstanding the unavailability of federal financial participation, no person who is

recognized as a spouse under the laws of this state shall be denied benefits that are otherwise

available to spouses under Rhode Island law, including, but not limited to, those in chapters 40-8

to 40-8.10 inclusive, due to the provisions of 1 U.S.C. section 7 or any other federal non-

recognition of spouses of the same sex.

 

     SECTION 3. Sections 15-2-1, 15-2-7 and 15-2-11 of the General Laws in Chapter 15-2

entitled "Marriage Licenses" are hereby amended to read as follows:

 

     15-2-1. License required -- Proof of divorce License required -- Proof of divorce

Obligation of clerk to issue license. -- (a) Persons intending to be joined together in marriage in

this state must first obtain a license from the clerk of the town or city in which:

      (1) The female Either party to the proposed marriage resides; or in the city or town in

which

      (2) The male party resides, if the female party is a nonresident of this state; or in the city

or town in which

     (3)(2) The proposed marriage is to be performed, if both parties are nonresidents of this

state.

      (b) Before any license shall be issued to any person who, having been previously married

or a party to another relationship that provides substantially the same rights, benefits and

responsibilities as a marriage, has been divorced, the person shall present to the town or city clerk

an authenticated copy of the decree granting the divorce or an authenticated copy of the final

dissolution of the previous relationship.

     (c) The town or city clerk shall issue a license to any person eligible to marry under the

provisions of chapter 15-1.

 

     15-2-7. Form and contents of certificates, reports, and other returns. -- The forms of

certificates, reports, and other returns required by this chapter, or by regulations adopted pursuant

to this chapter, shall include as a minimum the items recommended by the federal agency

responsible for national vital statistics, subject to approval of and modification by the state

director of health. Both the bride and groom parties shall subscribe to the truth of data in the

application in the presence of the local registrar or his or her assistant.

 

     15-2-11. Consent and procedure required for license to minors and persons under

guardianship. -- (a) No minor or person under the control of a parent or guardian shall be

allowed to give and subscribe to the information provided for in sections 15-2-1 -- 15-2-10, or

shall receive the license provided for in these sections, unless the consent in writing of the parent

or guardian, given in the presence of the town or city clerk or any clerk employed in that office,

has first been obtained; provided, that proof shall be submitted that the minor, if a female, has

attained the age of sixteen (16) years; and provided, that this information may be given and

subscribed to by a minor, if a female, who has attained the age of sixteen (16) years, residing in

this state upon the consent in writing of the director of public welfare of the town or city in which

the minor resides, given in the presence of the town or city clerk or any clerk employed in that

office.

      (b) In addition to the requirements in subsection (a) of this section, no license shall be

issued to any minor, if a female under the age of sixteen (16) years, and if a male under the age of

eighteen (18) years, unless and until the following requirements have been complied with, and the

town or city clerk is directed in writing to issue the license by the family court:

      (1) The town or city clerk, upon receiving information provided for in sections 15-2-1 --

through 15-2-10, shall immediately transmit a certified copy of the information to the family

court. The court shall immediately transmit a copy of the information, together with a written

request for a complete investigation of and a report upon the advisability of the issuance of the

license, to the department of human services. The department shall within fifteen (15) days after

the receipt of the information, the request, and the report file in the court its complete report in

writing.

      (2) The court shall then conduct a hearing in chambers to determine the advisability of

the issuance of the license and shall notify the town or city clerk of its determination. The court

shall have the power to summon at the hearing any persons that it may deem advisable.

      (3) The court shall also file the report and a notation of its determination in the office of

the clerk of the court, but any papers filed at the office of the clerk shall not be matters of public

record and may be examined only upon the written authorization of the court.

      (4) During the pendency of the proceedings, the court shall exercise the authority of a

guardian in respect to the minor or minors involved.

 

     SECTION 4. Chapter 15-3 of the General Laws entitled "Solemnization of Marriages" is

hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:

 

     15-3-6.1. Protection of freedom of religion in marriage. (a) Consistent with the

guarantees of freedom of religion set forth by both the First Amendment to the United States

constitution and article I section 3 of the Rhode Island constitution, each religious institution has

exclusive control over its own religious doctrine, policy, and teachings regarding who may marry

within its faith, and on what terms, as long as such policies are consistent with sections 15-1-2,

15-1-3, 15-1-4 and 15-1-5. No court or other state or local governmental body, entity, agency or

commission shall compel, prevent, or interfere in any way with any religious institution's

decisions about marriage eligibility within that particular faith's tradition.

     (b) Consistent with the guarantees of freedom of religion set forth by both the First

Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I section 3 of the Rhode Island

constitution, no regularly licensed or ordained clergyperson, minister, elder, priest, imam, rabbi,

or similar official of any church or religious denomination as described and authorized in sections

15-3-5 and 15-3-6 of the general laws to officiate at a civil marriage, is required to solemnize any

marriage. A regularly licensed or ordained clergyperson, minister, elder, priest, imam, rabbi, or

similar official of any church or religious denomination shall be immune from any civil claim or

cause of action based on a refusal to solemnize any marriage under this chapter. No state agency

or local government may base a decision to penalize, withhold benefits from, or refuse to contract

with any church or religious denomination on the refusal of a person associated with such church

or religious denomination to solemnize a marriage under this chapter.

     (c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a religions organization, association, or

society, and any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by a

religious organization, association or society, or a fraternal benefit or service organization that

has among its stated purposes the promotion and support or protection of a religious organization,

association or society and that restricts membership to practicing members of that religious

organization, association or society, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations,

advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges to an individual if the request for such services,

accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges is related to:

     (1) The solemnization of a marriage or the celebration of a marriage, and such

solemnization or celebration is in violation of its religious beliefs and faith; or

     (2) The promotion of marriage through any social or religious programs or services,

which violates the religious doctrine or teachings of religious organization, association or society.

Any refusal by an entity described above or an officer, employee or member thereof acting in an

official capacity on behalf of that entity to provide services, accommodations, advantages,

facilities, goods, or privileges in accordance with this subsection shall not create any civil claim

or cause of action. This subsection shall not be construed to limit a religious organization,

association, or society, or a fraternal benefit or service organization as described in this

subsection, from selectively providing services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or

privileges to some individuals with respect to solemnization or celebration of a marriage but not

to others.

     (d) Nothing in the marriage laws of this state shall be deemed or construed to limit the

protections and exemptions provided to religious organizations under GL paragraph 28-5-6(7)(ii)

and subsection 34-37-4.2(a).

     (e) A fraternal benefit or service organization that is operated, supervised or controlled by

a religious organization and a fraternal benefit or service organization which has among its stated

purposes the promotion, support or protection of a religious organization and which restricts its

membership to practicing members of that religious organization shall not be required to admit

any individual as a member or to provide benefits to any individual. A refusal by a fraternal

benefit or service organization by a member, officer or employee thereof acting in an official

capacity on behalf of a society described herein, to admit an individual as a member or to provide

benefits related to a marriage which is in violation of the religious doctrine or teachings of the

religious organization to which its members are required to adhere, shall not create a civil claim

or result in any government action to penalize, withhold benefits from the fraternal benefit or

service organization or discriminate against a society or a member, officer or employee described

herein.

 

     SECTION 5. Chapter 15-3.1 of the General Laws entitled "Civil Unions" is hereby

amended by adding thereto the following sections:

 

     15-3.1-12. Merger of civil union into marriage by action of the parties. (a) On and

after the effective date of this section, two (2) persons who are parties to a civil union entered into

pursuant to this chapter may apply for and be issued a marriage license and have such marriage

solemnized pursuant to chapters 15-1 to 15-3 of the general laws, provided such persons are

otherwise eligible to marry under chapter 15-1 as amended herein, and the parties to the marriage

will be the same as the parties to the civil union. After the solemnization of such marriage, and

upon filing of the license and certificate of marriage with the clerk in the town or city from which

the license was issued pursuant to section 15-2-1, of the civil union of such persons shall be

merged into the marriage by operation of law as of the date of the recording of the marriage

certificate and shall be effective as of the date of the recording of the marriage certificate.

     (b) Such parties may also apply to the clerk of the town or city in which their civil union

is recorded to have their civil union legally designated and recorded as a marriage, without any

additional requirements of payment of marriage licensing fees or solemnization contained in

chapters 15-1 to 15-3 of the general laws, provided that such parties' civil union was not

previously dissolved or annulled. Upon application, the parties shall be issued a marriage

certificate and the civil union of such persons shall be merged into the marriage by operation of

law as of the date of the recording of the marriage certificate and shall be effective as of the date

of the recording of the marriage certificate.

 

     15-3.1-13. Recognized date of marriage. For purposes of determining the legal rights

and responsibilities involving individuals who previously entered into a civil union in this state,

and whose civil union has merged into a marriage under this chapter, the date of the recording of

the marriage certificate shall be the operative date by which legal rights and responsibilities are

determined.

 

     SECTION 6. Sections 15-3.1-3 and 15-3.1-4 of the General Laws in Chapter 15-3.1

entitled "Civil Unions" are hereby repealed.

 

     15-3.1-3. License requirements. -- (a) Persons intending to form a civil union in this

state must first obtain a license from the town or city in which:

      (1) One of the parties to the civil union resides; or

      (2) In the case of both parties being nonresidents of this state the city or town in which

the proposed civil union is to be performed.

      (b) Before any license shall be issued to any person who, having previously been married

or been a party in a civil union to someone other than their intended civil union partner, the

person shall present to the town or city clerk a certified copy of the decree granting the divorce or

dissolving the civil union.

      (c) The license required in: (a) shall be valid for three (3) months after the date of issue,

and if unused at the expiration of the three (3) months, the party or parties having the possession

of the license shall immediately return it to the town or city clerk from whom it was obtained.

      (d) License fee. - For issuing the civil union license the town or city clerk shall collect a

fee of twenty-four dollars ($24.00). The city or town shall retain eight dollars ($8.00), and

transmit sixteen dollars ($16.00) to the general treasurer of the State of Rhode Island who shall be

responsible for depositing eight dollars ($8.00) of the sixteen dollars ($16.00) received into the

family and children trust fund created by Rhode Island general laws section 42-72-30. Each clerk

shall keep an accurate account of all fees charged and received under this section and shall

transmit all sums due to the general treasurer at least monthly in the manner and with the forms

which the general treasurer shall prescribe.

      (e) The several town and city clerks shall record, in separate books to be kept by them

for that purpose, the information furnished to them and subscribed to as provided in this section.

Further, town and city clerks shall treat the civil union certificate as a vital record pursuant to

Rhode Island general laws chapter 23-3.

 

     15-3.1-4. Certification of civil unions. -- Officials empowered to certify persons in civil

unions:

      (1) Every ordained clergy or elder in good standing, every justice of the supreme court,

superior court, family court, workers' compensation court, district court or traffic tribunal, the

clerk of the supreme court, every clerk or general chief clerk of a superior court, family court,

district court, or traffic tribunal, magistrates, special or general magistrates of the superior court,

family court, traffic tribunal or district court, administrative clerks of the district court,

administrators of the workers' compensation court, every former justice or judge and former

administrator of these courts and every former chief clerk of the district court, and every former

clerk or general chief clerk of a superior court, the secretary of the senate, elected clerks of the

general assembly, any former secretary of the senate or any former elected clerk of the general

assembly who retires after July 1, 2007, judges of the United States appointed pursuant to Article

III of the United States Constitution, bankruptcy judges appointed pursuant to Article I of the

United States Constitution, and United States magistrate judges appointed pursuant to federal law,

may certify a civil union in any city or town in this state; and every justice and every former

justice of the municipal courts of the cities and towns in this state and of the police court of the

town of Johnston and every probate judge and every former probate judge may certify a civil

union in any city or town in this state, and wardens of the town of New Shoreham may certify

persons in civil unions in New Shoreham.

      (2) Every certification of a civil union shall be held in the presence of at least two (2)

witnesses besides the person officiating the certification and no minister, justice or other

authorized person shall perform the civil union certification until the persons to be certified in a

civil union have presented him or her the license named in this section.

      (3) Every minister, justice, or other authorized person who certifies any persons in a civil

union shall endorse the "License and Certificate of Civil Union" presented to him or her by the

persons and certify that the persons were certified in a civil union in accordance with the laws of

the State of Rhode Island and the person who certifies the parties in the civil union shall complete

all the information on the "License and Certificate of Civil Union" and file the form within

ninety- six (96) hours following the date of the civil union certification with the clerk in the town

or city from which the license was issued.

      (4) The town or city clerk to whom the civil union certificate is returned shall carefully

file and preserve the return.

      (5) If any person has any lawful objection to the civil union of any two (2) persons, he or

she may state the objection in writing, under his or her hand, to the minister, justice or other

authorized person about to certify the civil union, at which time the minister, justice or other

authorized person shall proceed no further in the civil union until the lawful objection has been

removed.

      (6) Every minister, justice, or other authorized person who certifies persons in a civil

union without first receiving the license required by this chapter containing the required

information, or whenever the certification of the civil union has been lawfully objected to and the

impediment is not removed, or when the person certifies parties in a civil union that he or she

knows to have a husband, wife, or other civil union partner shall be imprisoned not exceeding six

(6) months or fined not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000).

      (7) No civil union certified before a person professing to have a license or professing to

be qualified to certify the civil union shall be deemed or adjudged to be void, nor shall the

validity of the civil union be in any way affected by want of jurisdiction or authority in the person

by noncompliance with any of the requirements of this chapter, if the civil union is in other

respects lawful and has been certified with a full belief on the part of the parties to the civil union,

or either of them, that they have lawfully certified in a civil union.

      (8) Every person who certifies a civil union without being legally authorized to do so

shall be fined five hundred dollars ($500).

      (9) If, as the result of a court decision, any civil union which has occurred in Rhode

Island is declared invalid, the court shall order the state registrar of vital records to mark "invalid"

the original civil union record on file at the division of vital records and to note the invalidity of

the civil union on all other files or references to the civil union.

      (10) Whoever provides any false information as to the requirements under this chapter,

or whoever enters into a civil union without duly proceeding as is required by this chapter, shall

be fined not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500).

 

     SECTION 7. Severability.- If any provisions of the act or the application thereof to any

person or circumstances is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect any other provisions or

applications of this act, which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application,

and to this end the provisions of this act are declared to be severable.

 

     SECTION 8. This act shall take effect on August 1, 2013.

     

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LC00144/SUB B/2

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