Author: Beth P. Zoller, XpertHR Legal Editor

Rhode Island has passed a law legalizing same-sex marriages, which takes effect on August 1, 2013. Previously, Rhode Island recognized same-sex civil unions.

The new law explicitly defines marriage as the legally recognized union of two people, and permits any two individuals to marry regardless of gender. It further provides that religious institutions are free to refuse to perform such marriages because it is against their faith and should not be penalized by any state or local agency for refusing to solemnize such marriages. Finally, the law recognizes civil unions in other states as marriages in Rhode Island. +2013 Bill Tracking RI S.B. 38.

As a result of this new law, Rhode Island employers should review and amend their workplace policies regarding sexual orientation discrimination and benefits for same-sex spouses.

Additional Resources

How to Prevent Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

Employee Management > EEO - Discrimination: Rhode Island

Employee Benefits > Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Rhode Island

Employee Benefits > Health Care Benefits: Rhode Island

Payroll > Taxation of Employee Benefits: Rhode Island