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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.

Rhode Island moved one step closer to marriage equality Thursday as the Rhode Island House of Representatives voted 51 to 19 today to allow same-sex couples to marry in the state, the Legislature announced in a release.

Rep. Arthur Handy, who has introduced the bill for each of the last 11 years, said the proposal is about justice and equity for same-sex couples.

“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.

John Galt March 26, 2013 at 03:09 AM
Dear Naome, I've been called much worse by much better... You are a living farce.I don't claim to be a bad ass, I am a simple and humble guy that believes in merit, humanity and fairness. I simply don't appreciate bully's and you are a pretty big one here. . Unlike yourself, I don't sit at home all day, scouring the internet looking for virtual arguments that I can "win" by hodge-podging cherry picked citations taken in any context that suits my fancy all so that I can feed my broken ego. You are such the multi-tasker! It must be exhausting! Hey look I'm Naome Lixes, and after googling the planet for an hour, I've found some obscure reference that provides a counter-point to anything that you just said. Of course I didn't think of it myself, and I certainly didn't posses the knowledge myself, but hey, copying words from the web is a skill, right? What happened to you, maybe you would feel better if you just sought out some therapy... Just show us on the bunny where they touched you... you might finally get some relief. I could care less about what anyone else does in their bed-room. And even if I did have an opinion that was different, I am certainly entitled to it. We all are. It's part of the human element. Your ideals don't make you better than anyone. You are a fat, stay at home nobody. Seriously bra, get over yourself. WHAT HAVE YOU EVER ACCOMPLISHED?
Dan Johnson March 26, 2013 at 02:46 PM
H. The common but irrational and false claim opposite sex couples will stop getting married if same sex couples are treated equally, was partially debunked above. While Europe is different in the incentives for marriage, people continue to get married there. Ironically, they created "civil unions" to appease the religious objectors, and many straight couples are choosing those rather than marriage, but they are still forming committed relationships complete with legally binding contracts. "In fact, Denmark's long-term decline in marriage rates turned around in the early 1980s, and the upward trend in heterosexual marriage has continued since the 1989 passage of the registered partner law Today, Danish heterosexual marriage rates are the highest they have been since the early 1970s." http://www.contemporaryfamilies.org/marriage-partnership-divorce/scandinavia.html
Dan Johnson March 26, 2013 at 03:14 PM
H. Not sure where you got your CDC info, but it is wrong. Of the top 10 states listed by CDC, only NY and Maryland currently allow same sex marriage, and that only happened last year. Florida , Texas, Georgia, and other more anti-gay states made the list. Yet even that false information fails to show any harm to marriage. Disease information has always been used against minority populations to demonize and dehumanize in order to justify causing further harm. Yet even misleading information about disease transmission, supports the importance of encouraging committed relationships through marriage. It also demonstrates the importance of accurate and honest education about disease transmission and risk reduction. Anyone can catch any disease, if exposed in a way that allows transmission. It fails to provide an excuse for legal discrimination and the continued promotion of the irrational prejudice that leads many to self destructive behavior including high risk sex. Punishing one group for something that involves everyone is irrational. It also fails to consider gay women are the lowest risk group for disease transmission, while straight people of both sexes are also at risk for all of the same things used to demonize and deny equal treatment to gay people of both sexes.
Dan Johnson March 26, 2013 at 03:18 PM
I also provided documentation showing your information about Europe is wrong as well, but it shows pending. In short, declines in marriage stopped once gay people started wanting equal protections. It is irrational to believe people will stop getting married simply because more people want to.
Harvey Wallbanger March 26, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Anyone can form a committed relationship. If more relationships are happening than marriage, then marriage is on the decline. The CDC information came from the CDC website. Yes, anyone can get a disease. I wasn't talking about that but thank you for trying to avoid the real problem.

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