Hodgson Says Vote Now On Same-Sex Marriage; Raptakis Willing To Wait

Both EG state senators say the real business of the General Assembly should be the economy.

Now that the state House of Representatives has passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage, the question has become when will the Senate Judiciary Committee – on which Sen. Lou Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry) serves – take it up. 

Raptakis, of Coventry, represents a small portion of East Greenwich. He has said he is against same-sex marraige. On Sunday he said it's up to the head of the committee, Sen. Michael McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick), to decide when to take up the bill.

When asked if he thought the Senate should act quickly, he said, "Why did the Speaker of the House push it through now? Aren’t there more pressing business concerns?" 

Alternatively, Sen. Dawson Hodgson (R-Dist. 35, North Kingstown) would like to see a vote on same-sex marriage as soon as this week. Hodgson is for same sex-marriage, but his real motivation in having the vote soon is to move the issue offstage. 

"Whether you're for this or against this, you should have a vote," he said Sunday. "I thing we should do this sooner rather than later … and then get back to what we were elected to do."

Rep. Anthony Giarrusso (R–Dist. 30, E.G.) voted against the bill on Thursday. Since then, he said, he's received two emails criticizing his vote.

"It’s a process, that’s why it’s called a debate," he said, noting he was one of 19 representatives who voted against the bill. "There were more Democrats that voted against it than Republicans."

In other action last week ... 

Giarrusso introduced two bills, one that would require the state pay for the property revaluations it mandates. The other was what he called a "common sense bill" – making sure that a convicted rapist is not able to exercise parental rights if his victim becomes pregnant and has the baby. 

He said it was brought to his attention by a constituent.

"Let’s get this on the books before it becomes an issue," he said, acknowledging he didn't know of any such incidents in Rhode Island. "It just adds insult to injury."

Hodgson introduced a bill calling for the reinstatement of both the Board of Governors for Higher Education and the Board of Regents on a temporary basis, until the new single panel governing all education in the state is up and running.

"There's been no governance over education since Jan. 1," he said. A bill combining the two groups was passed at the very end of last year's General Assembly session. Gov. Chafee has put forward names of people to serve on the panel but as of now there is no one tapped to lead it.

"Before we hand over a huge amount of authority to an organization there should be an administrative plan," Hodgson said. He said he's gotten several co-sponsors.

Meanwhile, Raptakis co-sponsored a bill that would allow businesses to recoup some of the $500 corporate tax all businesses in the state must pay yearly. 

"That allows any small business that pays that $500 tax each year, if you owe the state $200 at the end of your corporate filings, you would get $300 back," Raptakis said.

Dan Johnson February 10, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Marriage equality should be passed without further delay. Justice delayed is justice denied. Requiring residents to cross the state line so they may have a legal marriage at home is irrational, counter productive, and cruel. It only creates an unnecessary burden. Pass marriage equality now, and move on to things that affect everyone. It is only those who refuse to treat others as they would themselves, that are causing the delay. There is no legitimate governmental interest served by denial of equal treatment under the law.
Dan Johnson February 10, 2013 at 06:28 PM
"The conservative movement, to which I subscribe, has as one of its basic tenets the belief that government should stay out of people’s private lives. Government governs best when it governs least - and stays out of the impossible task of legislating morality. But legislating someone’s version of morality is exactly what we do by perpetuating discrimination against gays." (Conservative Icon, WW 2 hero, former AZ Senator, and Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, 1993)
Dan Johnson February 10, 2013 at 06:43 PM
Every major medical and social science organization in the U.S. agree being gay is a normal expression of the human condition for a minority of the population. Being gay is not a choice, nor a lifestyle. There are many Christians who understand being gay is a natural expression of the human condition. These Christians do not believe loving another person of the same gender is immoral or even a sin. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bishop Gene Robinson and a long list of other Christian leaders and believers will tell you gay people are part of God's creation and negative judgement and stigmatization only results in needless suffering and death. There is no rational, reasonable, or scientifically justifiable reason to treat gay people differently than you would want to be treated. The only excuse for prejudice and discrimination remains in a few questionable religious texts, which have been misinterpreted and mistranslated over time, and which are contradicted by other verses including the most important one according to Jesus, namely that you love God and love others the same. Accepting alternate interpretations of those few verses that seem to condemn same sex love does not require abandoning your religious beliefs, only expanding them to include the idea that God created all things, including gay people, and He wants you to love them as you love Jesus, not judge and harm them. The Golden Rule is not just a religious belief. It is required by the constitution.
Dan Johnson February 10, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Dr. King said: "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." He also acknowledged that real change takes time; yet he also warned against the "tranquilizing drug of gradualism" and instructed the oppressed to demand equality now - not on the convenient time schedule of those doing the oppressing. So we must speak out and work for equal rights, not sit quietly and hope those blocking equal treatment will decide to give them to us as some sort of reward for waiting patiently. All gay people have lived their entire lives being denied the equal treatment of the law promised in the founding documents and required by the 5th and 14th amendments. That is too long to wait for the young people who kill themselves every year because they can't assimilate their sexual orientation with the dehumanizing prejudice they were taught by the law from early childhood. All mainstream medical and social science organizations in the US agree, being gay is a natural expression of human bonding for a minority of the population. It has always been that way, and there is no longer any reasonable or scientifically supportable justification for prejudice and discrimination. We also know for sure, that prejudice and discrimination cause suffering and death. Now is the time to discard the unsupportable prejudice we have been taught from childhood, and remove it from the law.


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