Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Rhode Island and Gay Marriage

     The LGBT community in Rhode Island may be seeing marriage equality become a reality within the next few months in their state. Not only did the Governor Lincoln Chafee in his inaugural address specifically mention marriage equality, but this coming Thursday in the House of Representative of that state, a marriage equality bill will be introduced. With the current climate, activists in Rhode Island are holding their breath, for this may be the time that marriage equality is within grasp. According to the Providence Journal...

      In a brief interview on Wednesday, Rep. Arthur Handy, D-Cranston, said he had already lined up 27 co-sponsors and was hoping for more, but would introduce the bill no matter what the number of Thursday in hopes of spurring an early-session hearing and vote on the measure.
      Besides Handy, the other lead sponsors include the openly gay House Speaker Gordon D. Fox, D-Providence, who had said in the days leading up to the start of the 2011 General Assembly session that he hoped for a House vote on same-sex marriage early in the session, before the lawmakers get wrapped up in budget and other issues.
      As of right now the climate in Rhode Island is ripe for the legislation. With the inauguration of pro-equality governor Lincoln Chafee in the place of anti-equality Republican governor Donald Carcieri, the chance of a governor veto has been eliminated. That being said, there are two main obstacles. First, the leader of the Democrats in the state Senate - M. Teresa Pavia Weed - is staunchly opposed to any marriage equality legislation, and thus she may be able to influence the Senate. Second, if the motion passes, Democratic Representative Jon Brien has vowed to introduce legislation that would put the legislation up before a popular vote. Though the second option would in reality not change the situation - since a majority of Rhode Islanders favor marriage equality - it would give precedent to the idea that our rights are able to be voted on. 

With these two obstacles in mind, please take the time to contact both Senator Weeds office as well as Representative Brien's office encouraging them to not block in any way marriage equality from coming to the state.

State Senate Office of Constituent Services -  401-276-5588

Representative Brien - 401-766-9887

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