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House Approves Same-Sex Marriage

The proposal to guarantee marriage rights to all Rhode Islanders now moves onto the state Senate.


The Rhode Island House of Representatives voted 51 to 19 today to allow same-sex couples to marry in Rhode Island, the Legislature announced in a release.

Rep. Robert Craven, Sr. (D – North Kingstown) voted in favor while Rep. Doreen Costa (R – North Kingstown, Exeter) voted against it.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Arthur Handy, who has introduced the bill for each of the last 11 years, said the measure is about justice and equity for same-sex couples, but is also emotional and personal for so many who have worked for years for marriage equality.

“Obviously, this issue is about fairness and allowing all Rhode Islanders to have equal access to the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage, but marriage is about so much more than legal protections," Handy said in a release. "My wife and I have been married since 1997, and as we’ve worked together to raise our son, the value of having a committed, strong family has become more apparent to us over time. All Rhode Islanders deserve to enjoy that security and support, and deserve to have their family recognized as equal to others.

"It feels good to see how far we’ve come in Rhode Island toward valuing all families, and I know we are close to the day when marriage equality becomes law here,” the Cranston representative added.

Forty-two of the 75 House members sponsored the bill, and the House Judiciary Committee approved it unanimously. The Seante is the final hurdle as Gov. Lincoln Chafee has pledged to sign it if the Senate approves it as well, the Statehouse release states.

The bill removes gender-specific language from the section of the general laws that governs eligibility for marriage. It inserts language that allows any person to marry any other eligible person, regardless of gender, effective immediately upon adoption of the bill.

It contains a provision that allows couples who entered into civil unions in Rhode Island to convert those unions to marriages, and automatically converts all remaining civil unions that have not been dissolved by Jan. 1, 2014, into marriages on that date. 

The bill reiterates the right of religious institutions to set their own guidelines for marriage eligibility within their faith.

Rhode Island is the only New England state that does not allow same-sex marriage. Currently nine states and Washington, D.C., allow same-sex couples to marry.

In September, a WPRI poll of 501 likely voters in Rhode Island found that 56 percent of Rhode Islanders support same-gender marriage, and only 36 percent oppose it.

Dan Johnson February 10, 2013 at 08:21 PM
You provide no legitimate governmental interest sufficinte for denial of equal treatment under the law as required by the constitution. A tradition of harming others through denial of equal treatment fails as a legitimate interest sufficient for continuing that harm and mistreatment. The impact on the children of same sex couples is needless harm. Denial of legal equality provides no benefit to opposite sex couples, while denial of equality only stigmatizes and harms same sex couples and their families.
Dan Johnson February 10, 2013 at 08:29 PM
Evidence exists both through clinical studies as well as through the personal testimony of millions of gay and straight people around the world who will testify they have no choice over to whom they are emotionally, romantically, and physically attracted. Bisexual people sometimes confuse the issue as it takes some of them a long time to realize that while they experience attractions to some members of both sexes, they have no choice over being attracted. Like gay and straight people, they only have a choice of whether to act on their attractions. Ironically, much of the research showing orientation is not a choice, comes from efforts to change it. Not only have such efforts shown efforts to change orientation are not successful, but that they are often harmful to the point of self destructive behavior including suicide. "Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation," said Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, chair of the task force. (APA)
Dan Johnson February 10, 2013 at 08:35 PM
There is no reason to believe treating same sex couples equally under the laws currently in effect would require changing those laws to something else. More of the same does not require something different. Your slippery slope is an empty, unsupportable fear, used to justify refusing to treat others as you would yourself under the law. It fails the test of logic.
Don Thela February 10, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Amazing! All this yabba dabba about gay rights and it's a mute point! Gays as well as straights are leaving this state in droves, because of the ECONOMIC conditions in this state. As far as people re-electing Costa, Maybe her constituents Believe the old adage that if you are crazy if you keep doing things over and over the same, and expecting a different result! Keep voting the same people into office in this state because you are too stupid and can only hit one lever on election day is crazy! Get over the gay rights crap and take care of the STATE OF THE STATE!
Don Thela February 10, 2013 at 09:37 PM
What we need in the state are representatives with the balls to get rid of all these commissions to study things and all the so-called quasi-governmental with open ended credit card, and get some with some business ability and common sense. I for one am tired of the freeloaders lined up to the teats of the taxpayers, while the status quo on the hill write checks on my accounts.

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