House Bill #5443 (2019)

AN ACT RELATING TO MILITARY AFFAIRS AND DEFENSE -- RECORDATION OF HONORABLE DISCHARGES

Provides a petition process to have a discharge from service recorded as honorable for members of the armed services separated from service with a general or other than honorable discharge due solely to their sexual orientation/gender identity/expression.

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Changes since original draft

  • 2019 – H 5443
  • 2019 – H 5443 SUBSTITUTE A
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  • LC001500
  • LC001500/SUB A
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  • S T A T E O F R H O D E I S L A N D
  • S T A T E O F R H O D E I S L A N D
  • IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
  • JANUARY SESSION, A.D. 2019
  • ____________
  • A N A C T
  • RELATING TO MILITARY AFFAIRS AND DEFENSE – VETERANS' BENEFITS
  • ____________
  • A N A C T
  • RELATING TO MILITARY AFFAIRS AND DEFENSE – RECORDATION OF
  • HONORABLE DISCHARGES
  • Introduced By: Representatives Vella-Wilkinson, Millea, Almeida, Williams, and
  • Shanley
  • Date Introduced: February 14, 2019
  • Referred To: House Veterans` Affairs
  • It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
  • SECTION 1. Chapter 30-22 of the General Laws entitled "Extension of Veterans' Benefits" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:
  • 30-22-7. Change in treatment of certain discharges.
  • (a) For purposes of eligibility for state or municipal veterans' benefits, former members of the armed forces who were separated with a characterization of less than honorable due solely to their sexual orientation or gender identity for transsexual service members, shall be entitled to all state and municipal veterans' benefits for which the veteran would otherwise be eligible had the discharge been characterized as honorable including a veterans preference for housing or employment.
  • (b) Veterans, entitled to benefits pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, requesting property tax exemptions must provide the municipal tax assessor with a copy of their DD Form 214 and a letter from the Rhode Island office of veterans affairs verifying the characterization of the discharge was based solely on sexual orientation.
  • (c) Veterans, entitled to benefits pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, requesting the issuance of motor vehicle veteran plates shall provide the registrar of motor vehicles with a letter from the Rhode Island office of veterans affairs verifying the characterization of the discharge was based solely on sexual orientation and shall comply with the provisions of § 31-3-53.
  • (d) Veterans, entitled to benefits pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, requesting issuance of a motor vehicle operator's license marked "Veteran" shall provide the administrator of the division of motor vehicles with a letter from the Rhode Island office of veterans affairs verifying the characterization of the discharge was based solely on sexual orientation and shall comply with the provisions of § 31-10-48.
  • (e) Disabled veterans, entitled to benefits pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, requesting priority for housing accommodations shall provide the applicable housing authority with a letter from the Rhode Island office of veterans affairs verifying the characterization of the discharge was based solely on sexual orientation and shall comply with the provisions of § 45-26- 12.
  • (f) Veterans, entitled to benefits pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, or their next of kin requesting burial of a veteran at the Rhode Island veterans memorial cemetery shall provide the administrator for the Rhode Island veterans memorial cemetery with a letter from the Rhode Island office of veterans affairs verifying the characterization of the discharge was based solely on sexual orientation and shall comply with the provisions of § 30-25-14.
  • (g) Municipalities shall ensure the appropriate personnel are trained to properly respond to these requests to ensure the dignity and privacy of the veteran.
  • SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.
  • SECTION 1. Sections 30-18-1 and 30-18-2 of the General Laws in Chapter 30-18 entitled, "Recordation of Honorable Discharges", are hereby amended to read as follows:
  • 30-18-1. Recordation without fee – Sufficiency of certified copy.
  • A certificate of the honorable discharge of any soldier, sailor, airperson, or marine from the military, naval, air, or marine service of the United States, and in case of a sailor to include notice of separation from the United States naval service, form 553 and revisions thereto, may be recorded in the office of the town clerk or the city clerk, except in the city of Providence, where the discharge and separation notice shall be recorded in the office of the recorder of deeds. It shall be the duty of the town clerk or the city clerk, or the recorder of deeds in the city of Providence, to record any certificate and separation notice upon presentation thereof without the payment of any fee. For any purpose for which an original honorable discharge and separation notice may be required in this state, a certified copy of the record, or a form issued by the office of veterans' affairs pursuant to § 30-18-4 shall be deemed sufficient and shall be accepted in lieu thereof.
  • 30-18-2. Sufficiency of reference to recorded discharge.
  • Any person who has served in the military, naval, or air service of the United States in the Spanish-American war, the insurrection in the Philippines, the China relief expedition, World War I, World War II, or any subsequent war in which the United States may be engaged, who has once filed evidence in a state, city, or town administrative office in this state that he or she has been honorably discharged from service or had the characterization of his or her discharge changed under the provisions of § 30-18-3, either in accordance with the requirements of § 44-3- 4, or in accordance with the requirements of any other general or public law of this state, shall not be again required to show his or her discharge paper in making an application for tax exemption, licensing, examination, registration, aid, or relief, or in any other pertinent relationship in connection with any general or public law of this state, where evidence of honorable discharge from military, naval, or air service is required to be filed, but may refer any inquirer for verification of discharge and former filing of evidence to the office of veterans' affairs, or other office or official where or with whom the discharge has been once recorded, which evidence shall stand so long as his or her legal residence remains in Rhode Island.
  • SECTION 2. Chapter 30-18 of the General Laws entitled "Recordation of Honorable Discharges", is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:
  • 30-18-3. Change in treatment of certain discharges.
  • (a) For purposes of this chapter, all former members of the armed forces who were separated from the service with a general or other than honorable discharge due solely to their sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression, may petition the office of veterans' affairs on forms and conditions prescribed under § 30-18-4, to have his or her discharge recorded as honorable.
  • (1) Upon a determination by the office of veterans' affairs that the member was separated from the armed forces with a general or other than honorable discharge due solely to their sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression, the director of the office of veterans' affairs shall provide a form to be recorded pursuant to §§ 30-18-1 and 30-18-2 certifying that the member's discharge is to be treated as honorable.
  • (2) Persons who have the characterization of their discharge changed under this section shall be afforded the same rights, privileges and benefits authorized by general or public law to service members who were honorably discharged.
  • 30-18-4. Powers of director.
  • (a) The director of the office of veterans' affairs shall promulgate any rules, regulations and forms as shall be necessary for the full and proper implementation of this chapter, including but not limited to:
  • (1) Informing former members of the armed services that they may be entitled to benefits and privileges that were previously denied;
  • (2) Recording all military discharges;
  • (3) Verifying the characterization of the discharge for the purpose of benefits and privileges authorized by the general and public laws; and
  • (4) Publishing and distributing materials to all state, municipal, and quasi-public entities highlighting the changes made to this chapter and the effect those changes will have to the application of the general and public laws.
  • (b) The regulations shall be adopted only in accordance with the procedures established by chapter 35 of title 42.
  • (c) The director of the office of veterans' affairs shall also be empowered to enforce and administer the provisions of this chapter with regard to ensuring that each state or quasi-public agency and municipality is in compliance with this chapter.
  • SECTION 3. This act shall take effect upon passage.
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  • LC001500
  • LC001500/SUB A
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  • EXPLANATION
  • EXPLANATION
  • BY THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
  • OF
  • A N A C T
  • RELATING TO MILITARY AFFAIRS AND DEFENSE – VETERANS' BENEFITS
  • ***
  • This act would permit former members of the armed forces who received less than honorable discharges based solely on sexual orientation to receive earned veterans' benefits as if their discharge had been characterized as honorable including housing and employment veterans preferences.
  • This act would take effect upon passage. ======== LC001500 ========
  • OF
  • A N A C T
  • RELATING TO MILITARY AFFAIRS AND DEFENSE – RECORDATION OF
  • HONORABLE DISCHARGES
  • ***
  • This act would provide a petition process to have a discharge from service recorded as honorable for members of the armed services separated from the service with a general or other than honorable discharge due solely to their sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.
  • This act would take effect upon passage. ======== LC001500/SUB A ========

Votes

NOTE: Electronic voting records are unofficial and may not be accurate. For an official vote tally, check the House or Senate Journal from the day of the vote.

Floor vote for PASSAGE

April 11, 2019 at 4:42pm
Yeas: 60 / Nays: 0 / Not voting: 8 / Recused: 0
Legislator Vote
Rep. Abney Y
Rep. Ackerman Y
Rep. Ajello Y
Rep. Almeida Y
Rep. Alzate Y
Rep. Amore NV
Rep. Azzinaro Y
Rep. Barros Y
Rep. Bennett Y
Rep. Blazejewski Y
Rep. Caldwell Y
Rep. Canario Y
Rep. Carson Y
Rep. Casey Y
Rep. Casimiro NV
Rep. Cassar Y
Rep. Chippendale Y
Rep. Cortvriend Y
Rep. Corvese Y
Rep. Costantino Y
Rep. Craven Y
Rep. Diaz NV
Rep. Donovan Y
Rep. Edwards Y
Rep. Fellela Y
Rep. Filippi NV
Rep. Fogarty Y
Rep. Handy Y
Rep. Hawkins Y
Rep. Hull Y
Rep. Jackson Y
Rep. Jacquard Y
Rep. Johnston Y
Rep. Kazarian Y
Rep. Kennedy Y
Rep. Kislak Y
Rep. Knight Y
Rep. Lima NV
Rep. Lombardi Y
Rep. Lyle Y
Rep. Maldonado Y
Rep. Marszalkowski NV
Rep. Mattiello Y
Rep. McEntee Y
Rep. McKiernan Y
Rep. McLaughlin Y
Rep. McNamara Y
Rep. Mendez Y
Rep. Messier Y
Rep. Millea Y
Rep. Morin Y
Rep. Nardone Y
Rep. Newberry Y
Rep. Noret Y
Rep. O'Brien NV
Rep. Phillips Y
Rep. Place Y
Rep. Price Y
Rep. Quattrocchi NV
Rep. Ranglin-Vassell Y
Rep. Roberts Y
Rep. Ruggiero Y
Rep. Serodio Y
Rep. Serpa Y
Rep. Shanley Y
Rep. Shekarchi Y
Rep. Slater Y
Rep. Solomon Y